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From Spain to Scandinavia 



From Spain to 

am spa 






Gl i fornix 

WOMEN OF THE REFORMATION, From Spain to Scandinavia 
Copyright © 1977 Augsburg Publishing House 
Library of Congress Catalog Card No. 76-27089 
International Standard Book No. 0-8066-1568-0 

All rights reserved. No part of this book may be used or reproduced in 
any manner whatsoever without written permission except in the case 
of brief quotations embodied in critical articles and reviews. For infor¬ 
mation address Augsburg Publishing House, 426 South Fifth Street, 
Minneapolis, Minnesota 55415. 

Scripture quotations unless otherwise noted are from the Revised Stan¬ 
dard Version of the Bible, copyright 1946, 1952, and 1971 by the Divi¬ 
sion of Christian Education of the National Council of Churches. 


Acknowledgements . 8 

Preface . 9 

SPAIN . 13 

Isabel cle la Cruz . 18 

Francisca Hernandez. 28 

Maria Cazalla. 33 

Marina de Guevara. 40 

Teresa of Avila. 47 


Luisa Sigea . 65 


Elizabeth and Marjory Bowes. 83 

Anne Locke . 89 


Katherine Stubbes . 95 

The Four Daughters of Anthony Cooke. 100 

Katherine, Lady Killigrew 

Elizabeth, first Lady Hoby, then Lady Russell 

Anne, Lady Bacon 
Mildred, Lady Burghley 


Queen Dorothea and Anna Hardenberg. 117 

Birgitte Gj0e . 125 


Anna Peclersclotter Absalon. 128 


Bona Sforza. 135 

Katherine Weigel . 156 

Jadwige Gnoinskiej . 160 

Three Polish Poets. 169 

Zofia Olesnicka 
Regina Filipowska 
Margareta Ruarowna 

Anna Marchocka Teresa. 177 


Katarina Jagellonica. 183 


Maria of Hungary and Bohemia. 205 

Isabella Zapolya. 217 

Helena Mezeo. 230 

Illustrations . 234 




my great granddaughters 

Libhey Catherine 

JU n oiufeclcj em en 

This volume has been more of a cooperative task than any of 
the preceding because so many countries are covered, involving 
languages in their sixteenth century forms. I am very grateful to 
colleagues at Yale and the community of scholars for assistance. 
On the Spanish material 1 owe a debt to Jose Nieto, Angela 
Selke Barbudo, Antonio Marquez and Tessa Ortega Emmart. 
For Denmark I have had help from Harald Ingholt of Yale and 
Leif Crane of Copenhagen. Sixteenth century Norwegian would 
have left me unsteady save for Nils and Birgitte Dahl of Yale 
and Sigrid Osberg of Bergen. For Sweden I would have been at 
a loss for a copy of her correspondence in seven languages had 
one not been supplied by the Brigham Young University library 
at Provo, Utah. Polish studies owe much to contacts made for 
me by Carol Borowski and meetings with Lech Szczucki and 
Waclaw Urban. On the Hungarian material I am indebted to 
Stephen Benko, Imre Mihaly, Eva Balogh of Yale and in Ru¬ 
mania, Nagy Geza and Laszlo Makkal. The task of rendering 
sixteenth century German into twentieth century English verse 
profited from suggestions by Barbara Green. Mrs. Price checked 
the manuscript. Suzanne Selinger has identified bibliographical 
references and the help of Andrea Foster for interlibrary loans 
has been invaluable. I am indebted to Marjorie Wynne for help 
and permissions in the Beinecke Library of Yale University. 

I have permission from the Student Christian Movement Press 
of London to reprint with some changes the article which ap¬ 
peared with the title “Feminine Piety in Tudor England” in the 
volume Christian Spirituality; Essays in honour of Gordon Rupp, 
edited by Peter Brooks. 

Similarly I am permitted to reprint with alterations the article 
“Queen Katarina Jagellonica,” which appeared in Theological 
Soundings, Notre Dame Seminary Jubilee Studies, 1923-73. Per¬ 
mission is granted by this seminary in New Orleans. 


A few reflections are in order at the close of these three vol¬ 
umes. Why was the study undertaken? Because of a lifelong 
interest in those who have not had their due. In 1955 the Dud- 
leian lecture at Harvard was on The Office of the Ministers 
Wife in New England. The larger study followed the death of 
Ruth Woodruff Bainton in the hope of rendering a posthumous 
tribute to one widely loved but little acclaimed. 

A further purpose is to correct historical distortions. Women 
were not enslaved throughout the past, as some seem to think. 
To be sure, they had a rough time by reason of circumstances 
which affected all. In the sixteenth century the average length 
of life was around twenty five years, because of high infant mor¬ 
tality. To replenish the population after devastating plagues 
families of ten or so were required. Women in consequence 
spent one segment of their lives mothering and another grand¬ 
mothering. They had to be supported by men and were glad 
to be. And think not that the lot of men was easy with families 
of a wife and some ten children to support. 

Certainly in our day we should assist women to enter into 
all of those fields which our new circumstances make possible. To 
that end history is not to be distorted. But is a male in a position 
to correct it? Is he capable of telling how women felt in the six¬ 
teenth century? Perhaps not. But he can record how they said 
they felt, provided they said anything at all. And there is the rub. 




They may have kept their resentments to themselves so that their 
real feelings can only be divined. But let not a modern woman 
think she can divine them by projecting herself into a bygone 
culture. Take the case of Katherine Zell, who, having lost two 
children in infancy and incapable of more, believed herself to be 
suffering from God’s displeasure. A modern woman would go 
straight to the doctor to learn what was amiss and whether 
there could be a correction. One must spend years with the lit¬ 
erature of an earlier time to have a feeling for its ethos. 

As for the role of women covered in these volumes, one ob¬ 
serves that administrative functions in the church were exercised 
only by queens who, by virtue of their office, could not avoid 
involvement. They had either to manipulate the political struc¬ 
ture or accommodate. Catherine de Medici, to avert civil war, 
convened the Colloquy of Poissy and having failed, instigated 
the massacre of Saint Bartholomew. Elizabeth I endeavored to 
“comprehend” all England in a common church by allowing 
wide latitude in dogma along with conformity in externals. The 
Puritans disrupted her scheme and the end was toleration of 
minorities. Isabella of Spain sought to unify Spanish culture in 
terms of rigid Catholicism. Bona Sforza in Poland accepted reli¬ 
gious pluralism because it already existed. Katherine of Sweden, 
to bring her country back to Rome, made accommodations to 
Lutherans which Rome would not tolerate. Isabella of Transyl¬ 
vania proclaimed full religious liberty primarily because the 
Turkish overlord so required. 

A pastoral ministry to the ailing and indigent was open to 
V women in every age of the church. A sacramental ministry, save 
for emergency baptism, was denied alike by Catholics and main¬ 
line Protestants, except in the case of abbesses, who during the 
Middle Ages, filled fully the role of bishops. 1 The preaching 
ministry was allowed only by radical sects, having often a pre¬ 
ponderance of women. 2 During the Reformation one turns to 
the Alumbrados and Antitrinitarians and in the seventeenth 
century to the Quakers. 

This phenomenon may be explained partly on sociological 
grounds because in the sects the women found greater scope, but 
l/ there is also a strong religious factor. The sects in question 


1 1 

placed more stress on piety than on dogma and this stance was 
congenial to women, whether within or without the established 
church structures. Women wrote devotional literature rather 
than systematic theology. We recall the Rime Religiose of Vit- 
toria Colonna, the Chansons Spirituelles of Marguerite of Na¬ 
varre, the meditations of Katherine Zell, the Lamentations of a 
Sinful Soul of Katherine Parr. We shall encounter the Modliwity 
(prayers) of Polish women. I am puzzled to account for this 
phenomenon. Have women refrained from theology because they 
were not supposed to exceed their sphere or because they were 
not interested? 

These volumes have not been written by reason of an exclu¬ 
sive concern for women, but also to discover how, regardless of 
sex, people felt in every aspect of life. Why the readiness “to let 
goods and kindred go, this mortal life also”? The core of piety 
is to be found not simply through creeds and confessions but in 
the contexts of living, dying, uniting, dividing, loving, hating, 
understanding and misunderstanding. One must not neglect 
Institutes of the Christian Religion and Loci Communes, but the 
core of piety is better found in letters charged with passion, writ¬ 
ten in tears or chanted in ecstasies. The anguish and the joy are 
often most intense in the words exchanged between husband 
and wife, children and parents. 

The biographical approach throws light also on social changes. 
Did religion play a role in the breakdown of the system of 
family-made marriages in the western world? There were un¬ 
doubtedly many factors. One was the romanticizing of marriage. 
Courtly love was at first extra-matrimonial, though not promiscu¬ 
ous. Prior to the Reformation it was beginning to be conjoined 
with marriage. And romantic love is obviously an individual 
affair. The Reformation broke with the authority of the church 
and at times with the authority of parents. Unity of faith was 
deemed needful for a successful marriage and since faith was 
individualized, marriage was personalized. Is there any evidence 
in these volumes that such was the case? There is some, but an 
extensive verification of the hypothesis calls for a study of the 
following century. 



Of incidental personal interest to me has been the heightened 
awareness of the interrelations of European society. I knew al¬ 
ready the contacts of the English printers with Basel, the resi¬ 
dence of the Marian exiles on the continent and of the English 
Recusants in Spain, of the Italians in Geneva and Poland, of 
the Poles in all of the universities of Europe and of the half 
dozen nationalities in the Church of the Strangers at London. 
But I was startled to find that the Italian queen of Poland 
needed a safe conduct from the queen of England in order to 
return to her own country. The real point was permission from 
Philip of Spain and lord also of Naples. He was married to the 
English queen. Hence the safe conduct was from Philip and 
Mary. I was surprised to discover that the king of Sweden was 
bargaining to sell a fleet either to Spain to crush the Netherlands 
or to the Netherlands to throw off Spain. I had not looked to 
find Sir Philip Sidney in Cracow, let alone to read a letter from 
the king of Poland to the Sultan beginning “dearest brother." 
I had not expected to find Lady Russell clandestinely disemmi- 
nating in England the views of Caspar Schwenckfeld. And I was 
bowled over to be shown the title page of a Spanish devotional 
tract in Mexico with a woodcut adapted from the first edition 
of the English Book of Common Prayer. 

Perhaps the most revealing discovery is that no one of these 
sketches is a success story. Prophets always die disappointed be¬ 
cause achievements never equal aspirations. These women walked 
as seeing Him that is invisible sustained by faith that somehow 
their toils and troubles had a place in the grand design. 


1. Morris, Joan, The Lady Was a Bishop (New York, 1973). 

2. Lerner, Robert E., The Heresy of the Free Spirit in the Later Middle 
Ages (University of California, Berkeley, 1972), p. 230, note 5. 


Spain long before the sixteenth century had been confronted 
with the choice of alignment either with Christendom beyond 
the Pyranees or with Islam beyond the straits. For some time the 
peninsula had harbored three religions: Christianity, Judaism 
and Islam. The three had achieved a measure of accommodation 
and cultural interchange. Wars were sometimes not confessional. 
Christians and Moors fought Moors and Christians. But as the 
fifteenth century advanced, the fever of national consolidation 
apparent in France and England affected Spain also. And the 
Catholic kings resolved to achieve both political and cultural 
unification in terms of Catholic orthodoxy. Ferdinand and Isa¬ 
bella were the main driving forces, he from the political, she 
from the religious angle. The Inquisition was introduced in 1478 
and Torquemada made Grand Inquisitor in 1483. In 1492 the 
Jews were given the choice of exile or baptism. Many left, many 
were baptized. These latter were called Mcmranos. In the same 
years Granada fell. Later on the Moors were given the same 
choice as the Jews. Converted Muslims were called Moriscos . 
Both were characterized as conversos. To keep them from lapsing 
into the practices of their ancestral religions the Inquisition 
became more rigorous. 

A measure of relaxation occurred in the early decades of the 
sixteenth century as the humanism of the Renaissance invaded 
the peninsula. Cardinal Ximenes, the primate of Spain and for a 


cklas Iriftrucftioncs del Officiodela fantfta Inquifici' 
onhechns por cl.muy Rcucrendo Tenor fray Tho<9 
mas dcTorqucmada Prior del monaftcrio defantffca^ 
cruz de Segouia primero Inquifidor general dclos 
/reynos y fcnoriosdc Efpaiia : E por los otros Reue* 
rendiffimos {chores Inquifidorcsgcnaralcs q dcfpues 
fuccedieron / cerca dcla orden quefe hadcrcnercncl 
excrcicio del fanfto officio'dondc van pueftas fuccefn 
uametc por fu parte codas las inftruftionfcs q tocan a 
los Inquifidorcs E a otra parte las q toca a cadavno 
dclos officials y miniftrosdc! faneflo Officioilas qua? 
les fe copi!ar5 cnla mancra q dicha cs por madado del 
Illuflriffimo y Reucrcdiffimo fenor d5 Alofo manri 2 
guc Cardenal delos doze apofiolcs Arcobifpo de Sc ) 
uilla Inquifidor general de Efpana. 

Compilation of the Instructions for the Office of die Holy Inquisition 
made by the Very Reverend Friar Thomas of Torquemada. 



time the regent, though medieval enough in his asceticism and 
crusading fervor, favored the new learning, founded the univer¬ 
sity of Alcala and projected the Complutensian Polyglot, which 
for the first time printed the entire Bible in the original tongues. 
In such an atmosphere the great Christian humanist, Erasmus, 
enjoyed a great popularity. 

But such latitude did not outlast the 1520s. Erasmus, while 
still esteemed by the humanists, was attacked by the Spanish 
monks. The “errors” of the Alumbrados were condemned in 
1525. The emergence of Luther caused Spain to panic at the 
prospect of the disintegration of that very Christendom with 
which she had sought to be aligned. The Inquisition was the 
more invoked. At the time of the great auto da fe of the Luther¬ 
ans in 1559, Cardinal Carranza, lately returned from assisting 
Mary Tudor to eradicate Protestantism by burnings, was him¬ 
self incarcerated by the Inquisition for seventeen years until his 
vindication in time to say Mass once and die. The degree of the 
hysteria is evident in that one of the charges levelled against him 
was that on hearing of someone praying the “Our Father" to 
Saint Peter, he had said “Of course it’s not right, but it won't do 
any harm." 1 There were, naturally, more serious counts but that 
such a peccadillo should have been deemed worthy of mention 
indicates the extent of the paranoia. 

Three groups came under attack: the Alumbrados or Illu¬ 
minists, the Erasmians and the Lutherans. The differences be¬ 
tween these three are not to be overdone. The Alumbrados had 
in common with the Erasmians the view that the rites of the 
church are valueless as external performances. They agreed with 
the Lutherans on the worthlessness of good works for the attain¬ 
ment of salvation and on the denial of purgatory and indul¬ 
gences. The big difference was the focusing of their piety on God 
the Father and the Spirit rather than God the Son. The Luther¬ 
ans, in turn, were not as remote as is often assumed from the 
Erasmians. The main point of difference was that Erasmus was 
still in the church whereas Luther had been cast out. 

The Alumbrados were groups with little formal organization, 
who met in conventicles under inspired leaders. Their total num- 



bers were considerable. The constituency drew heavily from 
three sources: con versos, Franciscans and women. 

The conversos from Judaism were attracted by a type of Chris¬ 
tianity which did not center on Christ, though his words could 
be used to justify reliance on the spirit, for did he not say, “It is 
the spirit that gives life, the flesh is of no avail”? They could 
see in his sufferings a foretaste of their own, but. hesitated to call 
him God save in the sense that there is “that of God” in all. 

The oppressed find solace either by way of time or of the 
timeless. The device of time is to posit surcease in a future age, 
in a restoration of paradise, when the spirit of the Lord will 
cover the earth as the waters cover the sea. Spain in this period 
had many apocalyptic movements, but we find no such dreams 
among the Alumbrados. They were disposed rather to take ref¬ 
uge in the timelessness of God’s invading love, to be filled with 
the spirit of the Ancient of Days, in whom there is no shadow 
of turning, no yesterday, today or tomorrow. Mysticism may take 
the form of the loss of the self in the great abyss of being or in 
milder fashion of the divine indwelling, the inflooding of the 
spirit as the light that lights every man coming into the world. 
With all of these types Christ may be a prototype, an example, 
but scarcely the second person of the Trinity, consubstantial with 
the Father. This is not to say that the Alumbrados made any such 
specific denials. The stress was elsewhere. 

The Franciscans had in their heritage many elements which 
would make them hospitable to the concepts of the Alumbrados. 
The emphasis was on the spirit. The rule of St. Francis was given 
by the Spirito Santo and had, therefore, greater authority than 
the dictates of the church. The Franciscans, who disobeyed the 
church, were in trouble and the radical branch of the Fraticelli 
was suppressed. Some of the Franciscans so relied on the spirit 
as to consider scholarship needless for the interpretation of 
Scripture. There were, to be sure, Franciscan scholars, but the 
Capuchins, originating in this very period in Italy as a branch 
of the Franciscan family, decried learning in their early period. 
Similarly among the Alumbrados we find the untutored, includ¬ 
ing women, claiming to be better able to expound the Bible 
through the spirit than were the learned without it. One is 



tempted to think of the Alumbrados as heirs of the Franciscan 
Spirituals and the Fraticelli, but there was this difference that 
the Franciscans were very Christ centered. Finally the Alumbra¬ 
dos attracted women. We have just commented on the great 
penchant of women for mystical movements and radical sects. 
We shall find examples as we examine the inquisitorial trials. 



Longhurst, John, The Age oj Torquemada (Lawrence, Kansas, 1964). 

Bainton, Roland H., El Aiwa Hispana y el Alma Sajona (Buenos 
Aires, 1961) 

Oro, Jose Garcia, Cisneros y la Reforma del Clero Espafiol cn Tiem- 
po de los Reyes Catolicos (Madrid, 1971). 

For the Medieval Sects. 

Koch, Gottfried, “Frauenfrage und Ketzertum im Mittelalter,” 
Forschungen zu Mittelalterlichen Geschichte IX (Berlin, 1962). 

Lerner, Robert, The Heresy of the Free Spirit (University of Califor¬ 
nia Press, 1922). On the role of women p. 230 note 5. 



Longhurst, John, Luther's Ghost in Spain (Lawrence, Kansas, 1969). 
Examples of Alumbrados, Erasmians and Lutherans both men and 
women, with a good bibliography. 

Bataillon, Marcel, Erasmo y Espaha (Mexico City, 1966), much en¬ 
larged over the earlier French edition. 

Marquez, Antonio, Los Alumbrados (Taurus ed., Madrid, 1972). 

Llorca, Bernardino, Die Spanische Inquisition und die Alumbrados 
(Berlin, 1933). 

Nieto, Jose, Juan Valdes (Geneva, 1970), analizes Alcaraz. 

Priem, Hans Jiirger, Francisca Ossuna, 2 vols. (Hamburg, 1967). 

Ros, Fidele de, Le Pere Frangois d’Osuna (Paris, 1937). 


1. Idigoras, Jose Ignacio Tellechea, El Arzobispo Carranza y su Tiempo 
(Madrid, 1968) I, p. 155. 

^Qdctbel de (a Cdt 


We now turn to the records of the trials. Isabel de la Cruz, 
the reputed founder of the Alumbrados, was of the stock of the 
conversos. She left home against the wish of her mother because 
the family was worldly and Christ said, “He that loves father 
and mother more than me is not worthy of me." 1 Isabel is not 
for that reason to be regarded as a congenital rebel, seeing that 
disobedience to parents for the sake of religion was the one 
form of defiance acceptable in that age. She became a Franciscan 
tertiary with the title of beaia. 

In 1512 she began to disseminate her views of religion at 
Guadalajara and soon had a considerable following among the 
Franciscans and in the higher echelons of the church. She was 
arrested by the Inquisition in 1524 largely because of the dela¬ 
tion of a one-time disciple, Mari Nunex. Isabel was incarcerated 
under frequent interrogation over a span of five years until her 
condemnation in 1529. 

Our knowledge of her views is derived chiefly from the con¬ 
fession made after years of intimidation and torture. The ad¬ 
missions may not have been altogether accurate, since elicited 
under such pressures. The text of the confession comes to us 
only because incorporated in the record of the trial of her dis¬ 
ciple Alcaraz, also of the conversos. Since he named her as his 
source we may regard his tenets as a systematic formulation of 
her own. The record of his trial includes also the sentence pro- 


Isabel clc la Cruz 


nounced against him. In addition we have an edict of 1525 
against the errors of the Alumbrados, not all of which are neces¬ 
sarily to be ascribed to Isabel and Alcaraz. 

But there is no need for reservation as to the core of their 
theology. The foci were two: the love of God and the interior- 
izing of religion. God, as love, invades man and is more truly 
present in man than in the sacrament. 2 Man, thus infused, loves 
God in return and likewise the neighbor. God, being love, does 
not condemn any one to eternal torment. Hell is concocted to 
frighten, as when one says to a child, “The bogey man’ll get 

Methods of torture in the sixteenth century. 


Isabel de la Cruz 

you if you don’t be good/’ 3 There is no hell. The church, which 
is the spouse of the God of mercy, ought not to consign to hell 
by excommunications. 4 At the very mention of such Isabel would 
wave her arms in derision. She did not, however, object to purga¬ 
tory, for it is not inconsistent with the love of God to allow a 
period of purgation in preparation for heaven. 5 

Man’s response to the love of God should be an absolute sur¬ 
render of the human will to the divine will. “Except the seed 
falls into the ground and dies it bears no fruit. He who loves his 
life loses it.” 6 So he who works to save his soul loses it 
and he who loses his soul in God saves it. 7 Evangelical perfection 
consists in the negation of one’s own will. This renunciation is 
called in Spanish dexamiento 8 (the German equivalent is Gelas- 
senheit). The surrender to God may involve resistance to men. 
Disobedience to parents and superiors is mandatory if they go 
counter to the love of God. 9 

The surrender of one’s own will excludes any attempt to 
manipulate God for one’s own ends. Seek not to scale heaven 
or evade hell. 10 Take no thought as to election. Leave all to God 
according to his good pleasure. Prayer is not to be petition for 
any one thing in particular. Lay before God the heart’s desires, 
adding, “Thy will be done.’’ 11 Consequently good works done 
for the sake of credit are reprehensible and the attempt to reduce 
penalties for sins by bulls of indulgence is abhorrent. 12 

Being in the love of God has certain consequences. Man will 
not necessarily be perfect. A lapse is possible, but it will be minor 
and pardonable. 13 The corollary is that, as man can be united 
with God, so also with the devil. He had thrown Isabel into a 
perfect hell by tempting her to take her life. Collapsing after 
the long ordeal, she gave the explanation that as a benighted 
woman she had been seduced by the Evil One. 14 

The second great focus was the interiorizing of religion. This 
was in part a deduction from the presence of God in the soul 
rather than in the body. Here entered a strain of the Neopla¬ 
tonic dualism of flesh and spirit, that is of the corporeal and 
the incorporeal. The body is a weight upon the spirit. Did not 
Jesus say, “The spirit gives life. The flesh is of no avail’’? 15 
The result of this dichotomy is a disparagement of all the sen- 

Isabel cle la Cruz 

sory expressions of religion, whether of music through the ear, 
pictures through the eye, the sacrament through the mouth, or 
liturgical gestures through the body. 

Music for Isabel received no recorded attention. Images were 
disparaged, save for the cross and the crucifix, and even here it 
were better to bear the cross in one’s heart. What a paltry view 
of God has he who needs an image to bring him to mind! 10 As 
for Our Lady, any living woman is a better image than a dead 
statue. 17 Bodily postures are without avail: genuflections, bowing 
at the name of Jesus, kissing the ground when the priest says 
Et homo jactus est (And was made man); standing for the Gospel, 
folding the hands in prayer and sprinkling with holy water. 

One would suppose that castigations of the body would be 
recommended to keep down the lusts of the flesh. On the con¬ 
trary, flagellation, hair shirts and fasting were highly disap¬ 
proved. They were in part disparaged as good works designed to 
win divine favor, but partly, one suspects, as physical devices for 
overcoming the physical. At the same time the physical was 
given its own sphere along side of which the spirit coidd still be 
operative. In conjugal union God could be as much present as 
in prayer. 18 Pilgrimages and holy days were discountenanced 
because the spirit is not limited either to place or time. 19 

With respect to modes of prayer, the surrender of the self ap¬ 
plied not only to the will but also to the mind. One should not 
be impeded by liturgical forms recited by rote and out loud. 
Rather one should meditate without concentration on some par¬ 
ticular theme. Leave the mind entirely free for the invasion of 
the spirit. This was called mental prayer, as opposed to vocal 
prayer, stigmatized as nothing but “breath.” 20 During the Mass, 
Isabel was revolted by the practice of worshipers saying intermi¬ 
nable Ave Marias, as if there were value in the count. Isn’t one 
enough? We are not saved by calculus .' 21 For herself, she would 
rather stand during the Eucharist in awed silence before the 
mystery of redemption. 22 

Although she was quite capable of affronting popular feeling 
by going counter to current practices, at times she would con¬ 
form to avoid offense. Although in church she disliked the litur¬ 
gical forms, she had been seen at night in her room reading the 


Isabel cle la Cruz 

hours by candle light.- 3 There is no evidence that she kept any 
image but she did recognize that images are the text books of 
the unlearned. 24 The point was not that these outward practices 
were inherently wrong, but simply unnecessary, indifferent and 
often distracting. 

Reliance on the spirit raised a question with respect to author¬ 
ity in religion. Isabel recognized the authority of the Bible, but 
how is it to be interpreted? The answer was that if one dwelt 
in the love of God, one would be kept free from error. 25 This 
is why she, an untutored woman, had the audacity to set herself 
above the doctors in expounding the Word of God. 20 Did not 
Paul say, “The letter kills. The spirit gives life."? 27 At the 
same time the spirit does not unravel all mysteries, since there 
is that which “hath not entered the heart of man.” One should 
not indulge in vain curiosity. 28 We thus find a vein of anti-intel- 
lectualism in the spiritualizing of religion. 

The thought of Isabel was systematized by her disciple Alcaraz, 
who claimed to have received all of his ideas from her. Actually 
not quite all. Unlike her he recognized the principle of obedience 
to the church and did not claim, as she had done, inerrancy for 
himself as an exegete of Scripture. 20 He was entirely at one with 
her, however, as to the externals of worship and was claimed 
to have affronted public feeling by attending Mass in unseemly 
garb and with a large hat, in order, he said, to cover a gash on 
his scalp. 30 

On several counts he was more explicit than his teacher. One 
was the rejection of music as an aid to religion. A friend said to 
him that the sweet chants and hymns of the church were or¬ 
dained by the Holy Spirit to make glad the heart of man. Alca¬ 
raz rejected them as external. 31 Another point was the superiority 
of dexamiento to recogimiento. The first, as we have noted, was 
simply leaving the mind open for the spirit to blow “as it listeth.” 
Recogimiento was not recollection in the sense of remembering 
but re-collection, pulling oneself together, concentrating on some 
special theme as in the Spiritual Exercises of Loyola. For Alcaraz 
such a scheme was too rigid. 32 

The most significant elaboration of her thought had to do with 
the mystical doctrine of the indwelling of God in man. Alcaraz 

Isabel de la Cruz 


was familiar among others with Climacus, Bernard, Bonaventura, 
Gerson and Dionysius the Areopagite. 33 They were mystics not 
in the sense of experiencing raptures so much as in sensing the 
union of God with man, though, of course, there might be ec¬ 
static transports. Alcaraz is credited with saying that the love of 
God in man is God himself in man. 34 This was a slight rephras¬ 
ing of 1 John 4:16, ‘‘God is love, and he who abides in love 
abides in God, and God abides in him.” 

This presence of God in man is what the Quakers call “that 
of God in every man.” The medieval mystics spoke of the spark 
or the seed in the soul. These can be cultivated and increased. 
The spark may be fanned, the seed sprinkled. Dionysius posited 
three stages which Alcaraz elaborated as: 1) purification through 
contrition; 2) illumination through contemplation of God's gifts 
in creation and redemption. Here he allowed meditation on the 
passion of Christ, which Isabel rejected; 3) union of the soul with 
God, the most perfect of the three. 35 

Here is an example of what this doctrine meant to him in his 
own experience. He wrote: 

It is of God that there is in me no honor or preferment that 
any should envy, save that God dwells in my heart and works 
(Italics mine). These are my riches. Though I be but a foul 
sinner, I question not the goodness of God. I am blessed with 
the knowledge of the truth and the love of it. In the writings 
of the saints I have abundant examples and this is why I 
steep myself in holy exercises to free myself from many ills, 
to give me good desires and to withdraw me from evil doers. 
Although it is I that say this, I do so because God has done 
it, that I may give the glory unto him from whom proceeds 
every good coming down from the Father of Lights. 30 

Some interpreters see in Isabel and Alcaraz anticipations of 
Luther. To be sure Isabel, like Luther, rejected indulgences, but 
the reasons were different. Luther's point was that there is abso¬ 
lutely no treasury of the saints transferable by the pope to those 
in arrears. Isabel stressed rather that, even if there were, to seek 
from it a benefit for oneself would be abhorrent. There is a 
measure of similarity between the Alumbrados and the early 


Isabel cle la Cruz 


Climacus was one of the sources of the 
ideas of Alcaraz and presumably of Isabel. 
The name Climacus was the sobriquet of 
John, die abbot of Mount Sinai at the close 
of the sixdi century. The word “climacus” is 
from the Greek meaning ladder, from which 
also our word climax is derived. John’s work 
entitled The Celestial Ladder, had a great 
vogue and was speedily translated from the 
Greek into Latin and die vernaculars, in¬ 
cluding Spanish. It was also frequently illus¬ 
trated. The accompanying example has been 
redrawn for clarity from a faint reproduc¬ 
tion of a twelfth century manuscript. The 
rungs are numbered from bottom up in 
Greek notation. Within the rungs were the 
titles of the chapters, in this instance, nearly 
illegible and therefore omitted in the draw¬ 
ing. The artist has added a few features not 
in the text. At die top is Christ holding two 
crowns, at the bottom a dragon signifying 
hell. Such a borrowing from the Last Judg¬ 
ment is not consonant with Climacus’ pre¬ 
occupation with the love of God and one 
may assume that he would not have been 
happy over the portrayal of the poor fellow, 
who had made the last rung, only then to lie 
so carried away by overweening, self-confi¬ 
dence as to be sent careening down to the 
dragon’s jaws. Isabel and Alcaraz would have 
relished the twenty-eighth rung where private 
prayer is said to be in no need of bodily 
postures. The final rung expresses the core 
of die piety of the Alumbrados, for “when 
we are boiling with the love of God, when 
we are united and kneaded into the divine 
love, the body itself exhibits, as it were in a 
mirror, serenity and splendor, just as when 
Moses came down from the mount, his face 

Isabel de la Cruz 

Luther under the influence of the mystics Tauler and the Theo- 
logia Germanica, but the later Luther rejected all mysticism and 
so separated man from God that man's only hope of peace with 
God lies not in an infusion of being but in an act of sheer grace. 

The spiritualizing of religion was also alien to Luther. The 
dichotomy of God and man did not carry over into the relation 
of spirit and body. Therefore in worship he responded to pic¬ 
tures, liturgy and music. Especially when it came to Scripture he 
would not lay claim to the key of David to unlock the Word 
through the spirit, regardless of scholarship. Above all, Luther 
was aghast at such individualizing of religion that corporate 
forms dissolve into vague fellowships. His word for the spiritual¬ 
ists was Schwdrmer, fanatics. He had in mind the ilk of Denck, 
Franck, Munster and Schwenckfeld, whom he called Stenckfeld 

What now in the views of Isabel and Alcaraz offended the In¬ 
quisition? Not the mild mysticism of Climacus, Dionysius, Ber¬ 
nard, Bonaventura and Gerson, although the church is always 
leery of mysticism because it tends to undercut history. Chris¬ 
tianity is a historical religion, arising from an event in time when 
the Word became flesh. This is a historical event which the mys¬ 
tics tended to transform into a universal experience of the divine 
in the human. Again the spiritualizing of religion imperils the 
external structures, prized alike by Wittenberg and Rome. The 
rejection of established forms of worship, though not heresy, 
offends popular piety and defies public authority. 

How seriously this was taken is revealed in the statement of 
one of the inquisitors, who in the case of Isabel voted for the 
penalty of death. The arguments which he put into the record 
were in part traditional. The accused were repeating the heresies 
of the Beghards and Beguines, of Hus and Wyclif. Another rea¬ 
son, equally current, was that if lese-majesty against an earthly 
king is worthy of death how much more lese-majesty in the form 
of heresy against the King of kings! 

A social note was introduced when the inquisitor linked the 
Alumbrados to the Communeros, violent revolutionaries, lately 
devastating the land and only recently crushed. Both, said he, 
pretended to be reviving the purity of a golden age, the one ol 


Isabel de la Cruz 

the early church, the other of the classical state. If then, the 
church were lax in dealing with these intransigeants, the Com- 
muneros would flare up afresh to the ruin of La Spangna y el 
mundo. “I have tried/’ said this inquisitor, “to save Isabel on the 
score of insanity, but of this I can find no trace. My conscience 
will not allow me to do other than to vote for the penalty 
of death.” 

He was overruled by his colleagues and Isabel and Alcaraz 
were sentenced not to death but to life imprisonment. After some 
years they were released under surveillance . 37 


Bataillon, Marcel, Erasrno y Espafia (Mexico City, latest edition 1966). 
Longhurst, John, Luther’s Ghost in Spain (Lawrence, Kansas, 1969), a 
section on Isabel de la Cruz. 

Marquez, Antonio, Los Alumbrados (Madrid, 1972). 

Nieto, Jose C., Juan de Valdes (Geneva, 1970). In English. 

-. “E11 torno al problema de los alumbrados de Toledo,” Revista 

espahola de Theologia XXXV, Cuad. 1-4 (1975), pp. 77-93. Here lie 
points out very rightly that Alcaraz did not understand unification 
with God in terms of the negative theology of Dionysius in which all 
distinctions of truth and error, right and wrong disappear. But this 
rejection does not require also a denial of the threefold stages of ad¬ 
vance in the indwelling of God in man. And the number three is not 
significant. Alcaraz mentioned among his sources Climacus who posit¬ 
ed thirty rungs of the ladder. 

Ozment, Steven E., Homo Spiritualis (Leiden, 1969) on medieval mysti¬ 

Ricart, Domingo, Juan de Valdes (Spanish, Lawrence, Kansas, 1958). 

The source for the teachings of Isabel de la Cruz and Alcaraz is his 
Processo, which approaches publication in the transcription and anno¬ 
tations of Antonio Marquez. He has kindly supplied me with copies 
of the Latin summary of die allegations against Isabel, compiled for 
the briefing of inquisitors who had not attended all of the hearings. 
Prior to Marquez this document escaped notice. He has given me also 
copies of a number of briefer letters of Alcaraz to the inquisitors. Mrs. 
Angela Sanchez Barbudo has supplied me with her transcriptions of 
Alcaraz’ two long letters to the inquisitors, his Acta Tormento and die 
confession of Isabel. The latter has been published by John Longhurst, 
“La Beata Isabel de la Cruz ante la Inquisition 1524-1529,” Cuadernos 
de Historia de Espaha XXV-XXVI (1957), PP- 2 79'3°3- The sentence of 
Alcaraz is published by Manuel Sarrano y Sanz, “Pedro Ruiz de Alca¬ 
raz,” Revista de Archivos, Bibliotecas y Muscos VII, I (1903), pp. 1-16 

Isabel cle la Cruz 


and 126-139. The Latin summary of the allegations against Isabel covers 
folios 4221' to 429r in the processo. In the following notes the numbers 
preceded by the sign * refer to the articles in these allegations. Other 
references to the processo are preceded by fr. and fv. for folio recto and 


1. Mt. 10:37. 

2. # 119. 

3. f.301 and * 125. 

4. f.300 and * 127. 

5 . *‘128. 

(i. John 16:24-25. 

7- *5,8,21. 

8. f.231, * 23, * 25. 

9. * I3, * IO7-I IO. 

10. * 124. 

11. ** 17, 26, 30-36, 64, 94. 

12. ## 30-38, 64, 128. 

13. * 1 17, * 42. 

14. ff. 298-9, 302. 

15. John 6:62. 

16. * 96ff., * 57. 

17. Marquez p. 189, the words of another than Isabel. 

18. Sanz p. 11, No. 10. 

19- ** 3 6 , 43 - 46 , 5'- Do'S®’ 65, 120-21, 136. 

20. * 126. 

21. * 78. 

22. * 92-93. 

23. * 84. 

24 - * 96-97- 

25. * 41. 

26. * 23. Compare ** 135, 143. 

27. II Cor. 3:7 and I Cor. 2:7 King James. 

28. # 9-10. 

29. f-32r and L35V. 

30. Sanz p. 131 and f.22V. 



33. # 32r and f.i66r. 

34. Sanz p. 12. 

35. f. 3 2r. 

36. f.325. 

37. f-376r - 377V. 




rancisca ^y^ternanctez 
d ^drancidco OrtL 

Francisca Hernandez was a spiritual leader akin to the Alum- 
brados. She exerted an astounding influence on a circle of men 
seriously concerned for religion. A number of Franciscans looked 
upon this untutored lay woman as a miracle-working saint. Her 
vogue illustrates how easily an intense religious experience can 
merge with eroticism. She was active first at Salamanca, then at 
Valladolid. Beyond this our information is largely drawn from 
testimony before the Inquisition on the part of one of her devo¬ 
tees, the Franciscan Francisco Ortiz. This brief sketch is really 
more a biography of him than of her, but at the same time re¬ 
veals the catastrophic power of a woman to shatter the career of 
one of the great preachers of his age. 

Ortiz thus describes her: “She was small, fair, winsome and 
charming, so delicate as to frighten her doctor, for frequently 
she fainted. In her were combined the air of a child and the 
wisdom and prudence of heaven. . . . Her eyes were a trifle too 
merry for a saint. . . . She dressed elegantly to show that piety 
does not consist in a habit/' For the same reason she did not 
become a nun, since she agreed with Erasmus that monasticism 
is not piety. 

Ortiz had been delivered by her from a grievous affliction. 
During a period of four years he had been so tormented by erotic 
dreams and frequent emissions that he made an attempt at sui¬ 
cide. Word reached him that through her miraculous power 


Fra n risen Hern an dez 


others had been delivered from a like affliction. He sought her 
out that he might be cured like the woman in the gospel whose 
issue of blood was staunched by the Savior. At first Francisca 
refused to see him but yielded to his importunity when he stayed 
for a week in her area, persistently renewing his request. By the 
power which issued from her he was healed. He testified: 

When 1 besought God through his sole mercy to bring me 
to his holy bride, in the very first conversation she divined 
all my thoughts. I recognized by a marvelous light that to 
seek and find God I had no need of any greater truth than 
that which fell from her lips and that this was the pure grain 
and substance of the gospel. 

And again: 

If to Francisca Hernandez, who counts it as nothing to be 
servile, despised and ignored of the world, God has given 
such greatness of soul, such contempt of the world, such joy 
in persecutions, such wisdom of divine truths, such power of 
living words which transport the soul and eradicate longing 
for all that is not of God, such fervor of love, such true and 
perfect humility, with none of that hypocrisy under which 
others hide their baseness, such a wealth of spiritual conso¬ 
lations, such pure and excellent chastity, which has delivered 
me from the debilitating temptations . . . such sincerity and 
simplicity of a child, together with such authority and heav¬ 
enly wisdom, must one not say that a person on whom God 
has conferred such a sea of graces is the acme of all that he 
can bestow upon a creature? . . . She can be compared to the 
Mother of God. 

Then came word that Francisca had been arrested and thrown 
into the prison of the Inquisition. The friar then from the 
pulpit recited the imprecations of the prophets against those who 
oppressed the children of God and next launched into a diatribe 
against the Holy Office and the archbishop of Seville. Before the 
preacher could conclude other Franciscans dragged him from 
the pulpit and shortly he found himself like Francisca, clapped 
into the dungeon. 

Francisco Hernandez 

3 ° 

There followed interminable interrogations over the space of 
four years. What right had he to emit such a blast? He replied 
that he had been constrained by God and his conscience. But 
how did he know that the constraint was from God? Why not 
from the devil? He appealed to the testimony of the spirit in his 
heart, but this, he was reminded, was not evidence in a court 
of law. The church does not judge the secrets of the heart. (De 
internis nec ecclesia judicat.) What concrete evidence could he 

He answered that Francisca had been highly approved by 
Cardinal Quinones, the confessor of the Emperor Charles V. She 
had made a favorable impression on the Inquisitor General 
Adrian, later to be pope. And the Archbishop of Toledo had said 
that he would believe all of the claims on her behalf if only she 
were a nun. A woman so highly esteemed in such high quarters 
might indeed be interrogated but should not be cast into prison. 
Furthermore, she had worked miracles. One was his own cure. 
Another was that a woman totally unlettered could interpret the 
Scriptures with more profundity than the most learned doctors. 

The Inquisitor then pried into Ortiz' own orthodoxy, with 
hints that he might be Judaizing, since he had some of the blood 
of the Jewish con versos. He replied that if there had been any¬ 
thing wrong with his preaching the guardian would not have 
permitted him to preach during five successive Lenten seasons. 
He had proclaimed only the inexpressible love of God. 

He was threatened with torture and replied that it is better to 
follow one’s conscience than to spare one’s body. The Inquisitor 
was exasperated by his persistent obstinacy, whereas Ortiz was 
irritatingly joyous, unperturbed, serene and peaceable, praying 
night and day that God would give him grace to suffer for the 
name. He requested only that he might be allowed once a week 
to attend Mass, that he might go to confession, and if he were 
dying, given the last rites. To this extent only he yielded that if 
he were shown the external evidence for Francisca’s arrest he 
would retract the charges which in his sermon he had levied 
against the Inquisition, while still insisting that God had 
prompted his protest. He was worried lest this degree of retrac¬ 
tion might be prompted by a desire to escape torture. 

Francisco Hernandez 

3 * 

He had reason to surmize what the charges against her might 
be, for he had been asked whether his relations with Francisca 
were only of the spirit. How often had he been with her? Very 
infrequently, he said, though near the end on one occasion for 
about two weeks. Had he slept in her room? No, he had not. Had 
he given her presents? Yes, a few trinkets; but St. Francis had 
given his cloak to a beggar. Informed that Francisca was charged 
with unchastity, he stoutly protested her innocence. 

The Inquisition, in the meantime, had been sedulously collect¬ 
ing evidence beyond rumors. A certain Medrano was taxed with 
having had sexual relations with Francisca. He roundly denied 
it. Then he was put to the torture and admitted that he had 
bundled with her and she had enjoyed it, but of carnal union 
there had been none. Francisca was shown his testimony and 
flatly denied it. Then, no doubt under threat of torture, she 
admitted that for the sake of God she had had the same charity 
for him as he for her and no more. A medical examination 
proved her to be a virgin. Asked about Ortiz, she replied that on 
meeting he had sometimes fallen at her feet and kissed the earth 
but had never exceeded kissing her hand. Another witness testi¬ 
fied that once Francisca, sitting at meat next to Ortiz, had let 
her head fall upon his shoulder. 

These depositions were shown to Ortiz, apparently without let¬ 
ting him know that Medrano’s confession was elicited by torture 
and hers by the threat. He collapsed and submitted totally to the 
judgment of the Inquisition, without ever denying, however, his 
belief that God had required of him the protest. His sentence 
was relegation to a monastery, with prohibition on saying Mass 
for two years and preaching for five. Pope Clement VIII showed 
readiness to restore him to the preaching office in which he had 
been so eminently effective. But his inner assurance of ability to 
distinguish between the divine and the demonic had been shat¬ 
tered. How then could he preach? What was left save penitential 
silence? The hardest feature of the penance was the lack of books. 

Francisca, who testified freely against her associates charged 
with heresy, was released under surveillance. 


Francisco Hernandez 


This sketch is based entirely on the admirable book by Angela Selkc 
(Mrs. Barbudo), El Santo Officio de la Inquisition: Processo de Fran¬ 
cisco Ortiz (Madrid, 1968). She gathers up all that is known about Fran- 
cisca. This work supersedes Eduard Boehmer, Franzisca Hernandez und 
Frai Franzisco Ortiz (Leipzig, 1865), which, however, is not to be over¬ 
looked since it contains informative notes, such as that on the history 
of the term recogimiento, p. 251 and an excursus on the role of women 
in church history, pp. 48-52. 



The Inquisition never ceased to distrust mysticism. The Span¬ 
ish mystics survived by avoiding the errors of the Alumbrados 
condemned in 1525. The Inquisition then turned to the school 
of Erasmus whose Dagger of the Christian Soldier in Spanish 
translation contained much to disparage the external aids to reli¬ 
gion. He did not call for an absolute rejection, but so spiritual¬ 
ized the external as to make it appear superfluous if not detri¬ 
mental. Take this passage from the Dagger, and remember the 
figure of the ladder dear to Climacus. 

Do you think you will move God by the blood of a bull or 
by incense? “The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit.” You 
venerate the wood of the cross and have no regard for the 
mystery of the cross. You fast, refraining from that which 
does not defile, but you do not refrain from obscene conver¬ 
sation. You adorn a temple of stone, but of what use is this 
if the temple of the heart is full of abominations? With the 
mouth you bless, with the heart you curse. You enclose your 
body in a cell, while your mind wanders over the earth. 

Creep not upon the earth, my brother, like an animal. Put 
on those wings which Plato says are caused to grow on the 
soul by the ardor of love. Rise above the body to the spirit, 
from the visible to the invisible, from the letter to the mysti- 



Maria Cazalla 

cal meaning, from the sensible to the intelligible, from the 
involved to the simple. Rise as by rungs until you scale the 
ladder of Jacob. As you draw nigh to the Lord, he will draw 
nigh unto you. If with all your might you strive to rise above 
the cloud and clamor of the senses he will descend from 
light inaccessible and that silence which passes understanding 
in which not only the tumult of the senses is still, but the 
images of all intelligible things keep silence. 

One can understand why in an atmosphere of paranoia the 
works of Erasmus were placed in toto on the Index by Pope 
Paul IV and in part by the Council of Trent. 

Among the Spanish Erasmians investigated by the Inquisition 
only one woman have I been able to discover. The reason may 
well be that while his piety would attract, his scholarship might 
repel. He would scoff at looking for a spiritual interpretation of 
a text which was not so much as to be found in the manuscripts 
of the Bible. This is not to say that women as a whole had no 
interest in such questions. Those who did were the products of 
Renaissance education and there were few such in the toils of 
the Spanish Inquisition. 

The exception was Maria Cazalla. Even she was not concerned 
for all matters of scholarship, but only for those which minis¬ 
tered to piety. Take the debate about the three Marys, whether 
Mary Magdalene, Mary the sister of Martha and the woman that 
was a sinner were one person or three. Maria would leave that 
to the judgment of Mother Church. And she would have left 
Erasmus also to the judgment of Mother Church had he at that 
time been condemned. Seeing that the translation of his work 
had passed the scrutiny of the Grand Inquisitor, she could say 
there was not a jot or tittle contrary to the gospels in the works 
of Erasmus. “I hold what Erasmus holds, because Erasmus holds 
what Holy Mother Church holds/’ 

The local inquisitors nonetheless pried into her views on 
Erasmian tenets. Had she scoffed at Aristotle, she was asked, and 
had she said that Thomas Aquinas, Scotus and the scholastic 
theology with its sophistications had lost sight of the boy Jesus? 
She replied that she had not read Aristotle. She had not read 

Maria Cazalla 


St. Thomas. She had not read Scotus and did not know the mean¬ 
ing of scholastic theology. 

But although she disclaimed all knowledge of scholasticism, 
she betrayed acquaintance with one of the refinements of scho¬ 
lastic thought, the distinction between approximate merit (mer- 
itum de congruo) and genuine merit (meritum de condigno). The 
teaching was that if men do the best they can with the modicum 
of grace which God bestows on all, called prevenient grace, they 
will then acquire the lower grade of merit and God will then 
bestow extra grace which, if utilized, will result in genuine merit. 
Erasmus denied the genuine merit but recognized the lower grade 
to account for the passages in the gospel about reward. Maria 
denied all merit and in this respect she was actually closer to 
Luther. Asked what she thought about him, she said there were 
some good things in his earlier writing. “What writing?” “Some 
theses," she answered. 

Had she, like Erasmus, described many of the observances of 
the church as a lapse into Jewish legalism? No, she had not 
phrased it in that way, but she had grieved that so many sub¬ 
scribed to bulls of indulgence without paying any attention to 
what the pope said about confession and contrition. Had she said 
that to die without the sacraments would do no great harm? No, 
that she had not said. 

Had she said there are loftier themes for contemplation than 
the passion of Christ and that it were better to adore his divinity 
than his humanity? She didn’t remember, but thought she had 
said it to a certain friar. “What was his name?” “Oh, it happened 
some dozen years ago. I can’t remember.” (She was adroit at not 
remembering incriminations of others.) 

Maria was examined also as to whether she was addicted to the 
errors of the Alumbrados. She took care to avoid the word Alum- 
brado, for she would have been aware of the condemnation of 
1 5 2 5 , seeing that her trial ran from 1531-34. By reason of her 
association with Isabel de la Cruz and Alcaraz, she could not 
escape the charge of being one with them. Had she said that 
Isabel had greater authority than St. Paul and the saints? No, 
she had not, but she had regarded Isabel and Alcaraz as good 
Christians until they were condemned. Thereafter she believed 

Mario Cazalla 

3 6 

them to have been seduced by the devil. Had she indulged in the 
practices with which they were charged? Had she flouted the 
external acts of devotion: genuflections, making the sign of the 
cross, bowing at the name of Jesus, standing for the gospel, beat¬ 
ing the breast, sprinkling with holy water, the adoration of 
images? Had she stood bolt upright during the elevation of the 
host? She answered that she had neglected none of these practices 
and had taught her sons and her servants to observe them, but 
she did not believe they had any efficacy of themselves apart from 
inner devotion. 

Had she despised audible prayer? Alcaraz had testified that 
during prayer he had seen her not moving her lips. To this she 
replied in the negative. Had she despised sermons? No, but some 
lacked warmth. Had she condemned the Holy Office? No, she had 
not. This is an interesting point, because the victims of the Inqui¬ 
sition did not always reject the institution. They agreed that 
heretics should be suppressed, while insisting that they were not 
heretics. Had she eaten meat during Lent? Yes, on doctor’s orders 
and with permission of the church. 

What of confession and the Eucharist? Did she believe they 
were of no value, but had nevertheless complied out of deference 
to public opinion? No, not that, but there had been times when 
she was not spiritually prepared. After confession she may have 
recalled something not confessed, and did not feel worthy to 
come to the altar, but knelt nevertheless rather than give offense 
to others. 

Had she said that if we are filled with the love of God we shall 
not love our own children more than those of the neighbors? Did 
she deny natural love? No indeed. She loved her sons and had not 
neglected them. But the love of parent and child should not be 
based on blood but on affection. She did not love her sons simply 
because they were her sons, nor did they love her just because 
she was their mother. What about her husband? Had she said 
that in the act of conjugal union one can be closer to God than 
in prayer? This was a charge brought several times against 
Alcaraz and may have been applied to her simply because she 
was regarded as his disciple. Her answer was a trifle ambiguous. 

Maria Cazalla 


She had had pleasure with her husband, but it was possible to 
procreate without carnal pleasure. 

A particularly heinous offense was ascribed to her that, though 
a woman . she had dared to preach. Among others Alcaraz had 
made this accusation, saying that she was arrogant, presumptuous 
and inspired by self love. She had preached to conventicles, he 
said. She replied that no conventicles had met in her house. This 
left open the possibility that they might have met in some other 

After compiling the charges and her responses the inquisitors 
decided to put her to the torture. “Why do you need to torture 
me?” she asked. “I have told the truth and can say no more.” 

She was taken to the torture chamber and informed that if she 
were killed, or maimed or bled, the fault would not be theirs. 
She was ordered to disrobe. “You do this to a woman? I dread 
more the affront than the pain.” When stripped, she cast down 
her eyes. The torture took two forms. One consisted in tying 
cords around the thighs and arms with a belt around the waist 
from which in front cords went up over the shoulders and down 
to the belt in the back. Tourniquets dug the cords into the flesh 
at any point of the body. 

The other method was the water torture. The victim was 
bound to a trestle like a ladder with sharp rungs. The head was 
lower than the feet. The head was clamped immobile and the 
mouth pried open. Water then trickled from a jar into mouth 
and nostrils until the victim was nearly suffocated. Then the 
water was discharged and the process repeated sometimes until 
as many as eight jars were emptied. 

When Maria was strapped, she said, “Even so was Christ lashed 
to a column.” (A familiar depiction in Christian art though not 
mentioned in the gospels.) As the executioner was about to apply 
the pressure she exclaimed, “You are trying to make me lie. Do 
you believe liars?” 

One by one the accusations were read to her and after each the 
inquisitor said, “Tell the truth.” And each time she replied, “I 
have . . 

“Have you despised the sacraments? Tell the truth.” 

“I have told the truth.” 


Maria Cazalla 

Torture by Water and the Wheel 

Maria Cazalla 


“Did you conduct conventicles in your house? Tell the truth/* 

“I have told the truth/’ 

“Did you refuse to genuflect? Tell the truth.” 

“I have told the truth.” 

As the tourniquet was tightened, she screamed, “O Thou who 
suppliest strength in need, I confess Thee, I adore Thee. Give 
me strength in my trial.” To the constant charges to tell the 
truth, she cried, “Oh, why do you want me to lie? Saint Stephen, 
Saint Lorenz, Saints Simon and Jude . . . can the innocent confess 
what has never been done?” Again she was adjured, “Tell the 

“I have, I have, 1 have told the truth.” 

“Tell the truth.” 

“To what I have said I hold. O God to Thee alone will I con¬ 

The inquisitors said, “It’s getting late. We might as well stop.” 
Torment was not to be repeated but could be continued in a 
later session. 

In her case there was none. Since her utterances were deemed 
to have occasioned scandal, the inquisitors, invoking the name of 
Christ, passed sentence that she should pay a heavy fine, do 
public penance and be restricted in her movements. She re¬ 
quested that her husband be informed. She had recanted nothing 
and incriminated no one. 


This sketch is drawn entirely from the Processo contro Maria de 
Cazalla, admirably transcribed and edited by Milagros Ortega Emmart, 
pending publication, on deposit in the library of the University of Mas¬ 
sachusetts at Amherst. There is a partial edition by Julio Melagares 
Marin, Procedemientos de la Inquisition, 2 vols. (Madrid, 1896), II, 
5 * 59 - 

1/Ylarina de Cl 


Lutheranism was more serious than Erasmianism. After all, 
Erasmus died within the church, but Luther was under excom¬ 
munication. In the trials of the 1550s the charges against the 
Lutherans were belief in justification by faith alone, the worth¬ 
lessness of good works to attain salvation, the denial of purgatory, 
the reduction of the sacraments to two, the denial of transub- 
stantiation, the serving of the wine in the sacrament to the laity, 
the definition of the church as the company of the faithful, the 
assertion that the pope has no more power than the ordinary 
Christian, the description of the pope as Antichrist and the clergy 
as Pharisees. So much for Lutheranism. Calvinism also was 
brought in with the doctrine of predestination and Zwinglianism 
with the spiritual interpretation of the Lord’s Supper. The objec¬ 
tions to chants and vestments and the celebration of the Eucharist 
by the breaking of a loaf suggest the radical sects. 

As an example of the trial of a woman charged with Lutheran¬ 
ism, I have taken the processo of Marina de Guevara, which ran 
for sixteen months from May 1558 to September 1559. The 
period of her interrogations was comparatively short. Years of 
suspense were frequently a part of the grueling ordeal. The 
inquisitors deserve credit, however, for thoroughness. All hear¬ 
ings were recorded in detail. The examiners were not captious, 
though keen to detect evasions. 

Marina de Guevara was a nun of somewhat over forty years. 


Marina tie Guevara 

4 l 

The testimonies about her were mainly from the sisters and the 
abbess, though also from a man who had visited and spoken 
through the lattice window. Accounts are given of what took 
place on occasions when Marina was present. The entire record 
is revealing of what went on in a convent. One must bear in 
mind that some of those who testified were themselves under 
suspicion and were later executed. 

Here are samples of the accounts of what occurred when 
Marina was in attendance. 

A certain Catalina de Hortega visited the nunnery and de¬ 
clared openly that the blood of Jesus covers all guilt. There is 
no purgatory where the sinner continues to make satisfaction, 
because full satisfaction has already been made by Christ. Con¬ 
fession should be made only to God. When a sister gave Catalina 
an image of the Infant Jesus, she laughed. “I asked her why she 
laughed. She asked me why I asked. ‘Because,’ I said, ‘your laugh¬ 
ter is altogether out of place.’ ” Yet this same witness said that 
she herself had given up vocal prayer. Marina Guevara was 

Juan Sanchez, whose arrest at Antwerp will later be noticed, 
brought the sisters a book about the letters of Paul. The witness 
had concealed it in the infirmary where a group gathered to read 
and discuss. One was Marina. When Sanchez was told of drops 
of blood in a cell from flagellation, he said that the castigation 
of the flesh does not please God and that public penance should 
be abolished. 

Dr. Cazalla came to preach to the sisters and told them that 
good works do not contribute to salvation but are rather the 
evidence of salvation. Contrition is not a condition for salvation 
but a sign of being justified. Abstinences should be dictated by 
inner feeling. Francisco de Vivero recanted and said that he 
deserved eternal death for having embraced the teaching of 
Luther. But Catalina de Alcaraz said fearlessly that the sinner 
should present to God the blood of Jesus as sole satisfaction for 
sins which should be bemoaned and confessed. Doha Margareta 
said we should be joyful at Mass because our sins are forgiven. 


Marina de Guevara 

“Rejoice. The Son of God has paid the debt.” Marina herself 
was alleged to have said in the anteroom to one of the sisters 
that during the Mass she prayed for the living rather than 
the dead. 

Then we come to Marina's own testimony. She was of Chris¬ 
tian extraction with no trace of Jewish or Moorish blood. Some 
three years ago she had subjected herself to such severe penances 
that the abbess had enjoined her to spare her health. Then “Cata¬ 
lina de Hortega told me that Christ had paid it all. I rejoiced.” 
As for Dr. Cazalla, she had believed he was a good Christian. She 
was greatly upset on hearing of his arrest. With regard to Sanchez 
and the book, she had gained from it great profit till she learned 
it was not approved. 

Then came interrogations as to the heresies with which she 
was charged: 

“You say there are only three sacraments.” 


“You condemn entirely Jubilees and indulgences.” 

“Not entirely.” 

“You reject all oral prayer.” 

“Not all.” 

“You say that good works without faith are of no value.” 

“Not no value.” 

“You have condemned masses for the dead.” 

“Not condemned and not neglected.” 

“You have taught that Lutherans can be sure of their sal¬ 

“I believe only what Paul says.” 

“You have called Lutherans brothers.” 

“I have embraced Hortega.” 

“You have taught there is no purgatory in the next life.” 

“I accept the church's teaching.” 

“Don’t you know the church teaches there is a pulsatory for 

those who in this life have not made sufficient satisfaction 

for their sins?” 

“Yes, of course. I have never believed what the church does 

Marina cle Guevara 


not believe. What makes me so weary is that I cannot re¬ 
member exactly whether I believed there is absolutely no 
purgatory or whether it merely seemed to me that there is 
not. I was in doubt whether there is or is not. It seemed to 
me that it does not exist for those who do the will of God. 
Since I was in such doubt I submitted to the opinion of 
the church/* 

“What do you believe now?” 

“I believe what the church believes.” 

“Do you know what the nuns believe about it?” 

“No. Talk to them.” 

“I don’t know what Luther has taught about it. Did I say 
that at the Mass for the dead it is better to pray for the 
living? I don’t remember what I said. My memory is weak. 
I do think the living are in greater need than the dead. If 
you want to condemn me because of my words it is easy. I 
express myself poorly. I don't know how to make myself 
clear. Have I said that Christians are Pharisees? Yes, includ¬ 
ing myself. I wish my old Adam were in hell. My memory 
is poor and my soul is troubled. For the love of God show 
me how I can save my soul and relieve my conscience. I con¬ 
fess that inner works are better than outer. Better than the 
castigation of the flesh is the overcoming of pride and anger. 
To bring the heart into tune with God is better than audible 
prayer. I lold one sister not to practice so many penances but 
to take refuge in the wounds of Christ and not to trust so 
much to the Virgin as to her Son. When a sister was upset 
over losing her rosary, I said maybe God had hidden it from 
her to keep her from interminable babbling. Some inferred 
that I rejected all oral prayer. I have not and do not desire 
to depart from the faith of Mother Church. In whatever I 
have erred I ask God’s pardon and grace.” 

The abbess petitioned that Marina be allowed to receive the 
last sacrament, for she appeared to be on the point of death. The 
abbess said her conduct had always been most exemplary and the 
sisters testified they would rather pluck out their eyes or delate 
against their own parents than to witness against her. 


Marina de Guevara 

Procession of the Inquisition 

A. The standard of the Inquisition. 

B. The Dominicans. 

C. The heretics who have escaped burning by prior confession. 

D. The heretics who have saved themselves by confession after condem¬ 

E. The crucifix with its back turned to those to be burned. 

F. The heretics to be burned. 

G. The remains of those who had died in prison. 

H. The Grand Inquisitor. 

Note that those in sections C and D are wearing the apron called 
the san benito. 

She was adjudged guilty of heresy and turned over to the tem¬ 
poral arm (that is the civil government because the church abhors 
the shedding of blood). At the auto de fe, when sentence was pro¬ 
nounced, King Philip II and his sister Joanna of Portugal, to¬ 
gether with the Crown Prince Carlos, as well as all the court and 

Marina de Guevara 45 

prelates, sat on the public platform in the square of Valladolil 
on the 8th of October, 1559. 

“Of which/’ appended the secretary, “I was a witness/’ 
Signed by Julian de Alpuche. 

Before turning to a woman who was endorsed by the church 
in this period, we may draw a few further conclusions from the 
trials. The examples of Isabel de la Cruz and Francesca Heman- ^ 
dez demonstrate that women enjoyed a wide role in the church / 
so long as not suspected of heresy. And among those who were 
suspect and condemned, the number of women was about the 
same as that of men. In the autos da fe of March and October 
1559, on the first occasion 11 out of 25 were women and on the 
second out of 16 the women numbered 10. They were from the 
higher echelons of society. 

We find no distinction between men and women in giving testi¬ 
mony with regard to other suspects. Sometimes a woman took the 
initiative as in the case of Mari Nunez against Isabela. Those 
under examination were called upon to name accomplices or 
mere acquaintances, who then would be subject at least to inter¬ 
rogation. We have the response of Beatriz de Vivero to the de¬ 
mand that she declare her faith. She responded. “I have said that 
in Christ we have all our treasure and our salvation and one 
should not worry about works because in God’s eyes they are 
worthless.” To whom did she say this? “I said it to Doha Ana, the 
daughter of the Marquis of Alcanizes and to Doha Francisca de 
Fonseca, the wife of Alvaro de Lugo and to a young lady, Doha 
Francisca de Zuniga, the daughter of Antonio de Baeza and also 
to the Dominican Friar Domingo de Roja.” 

At the same time women were willing to risk their safety to 
assist the escape of suspects. Doha Catalina and her mother made 
possible the flight of Sanchez. Unhappily they did not destroy 
their correspondence and a letter from him made possible his 
arrest in Antwerp. 

The records give us little intimate glimpses of the share of 
women in small clandestine gatherings of those in danger of the 
stake. A woman relates that a Dominican friar was leading the 


Marina de Guevara 

devotions of several men and women in an upper room awaiting 
breakfast. Word came that a woman was downstairs. All looked 
dubiously at each other till one vouched for the visitor, who was 

Friar Domingo gathered the group around the table and, 
breaking a loaf, gave to each a portion, saying, “This is my 
true body. Take it,” and likewise the cup with the words, 
“This is my true blood/' As we partook, he said, “This is 
my body and blood. Take it in remembrance of me." Half 
of us were in tears. Then we breakfasted and dispersed. As 
1 remained sitting with Catalina, I said to her, “Do you 
know what I am thinking? I recall how Christ had the supper 
with his disciples. Then went out to pray and was seized. 
His disciples were offended." And I said to myself, “You will 
see how this will end." When we were together in prison, I 
reminded her of this. Then Friar Domingo took his leave. 

From another source we know that he was garroted. 


Menendez y Pelayo, Historia de los Heterodoxes Esj)anotes, II (Madrid, 
1880), pp. 314ft. 

The records of Marina’s trial are given in German translation by Ernst 
Schafer, Geschichte des slmnischeyi Protestantismus und der Inquisition 
(Giitersloh, 1902) as “Der Prozess der Dona Marina de Guevara 1558- 
1559“ in Vol. 3, pp. 131-257. I have used especially pp. 180-81. The ac¬ 
tivities of the women described at the end of this chapter are from 
Vol. 3, pp. 305, 307, 313, 510. 

We have dealt thus far with Spanish women in the toils of the 
Inquisition. We turn now to one on whom the church conferred 
sainthood. Her spirituality had much in common with that of 
the condemned, but she rejected none of the outward observances 
or formulated dogmas of the church. All these could be retained 
it infused with the spirit. She is as important as Ignatius Loyola 
in the resurgence of Catholicism after the secularization of the 
Renaissance and the shatterings of Protestantism. Her canoniza¬ 
tion came so speedily that some of her companions were still 
alive. In the bull which declared her a saint, the pope said she 
had rendered inestimable services to the church by reforming 
the Carmelite order, not only for women but also for men and 
not only for Spain but likewise in other lands. 1 

She was of noble extraction and through her paternal grand¬ 
father one quarter Jewish. 2 She had thus, in common with so 
many of the Alumbrados, the blood of the conversos. Whether 
this had anything to do with her spiritual orientation may be 
questioned because St. John of the Cross, so akin to her in piety, 
was of Spanish blood undiluted. 

Her formation was a blend of sainthood and knighthood, of 
piety and chivalry. In this respect she resembled Loyola. Her 
introduction to the heroism of the saints came by way of her 
father, a godly and kindly man who would not own a slave, and 
to the romances of chivalry by way of her mother, a gentle spirit, 


4 8 

Teresa of Avila 

married at fifteen, dead at thirty-three, having borne nine chil¬ 
dren and mothered three more of her husband's. During periods 
of languor she beguiled herself with the romances of chivalry. 

Teresa was first intrigued by the exploits of the saints and at 
the age of seven conspired with her brother Rodrigo, slightly 
older, to beg their way to the land of the Moors in order there 
to have their heads chopped off that they might the sooner see 
God. Intercepted and returned by an uncle, they set out to be 
hermits and constructed a hermitage of pebbles, which fell down. 
Such failures may have inclined her the more to relish the adven¬ 
tures of knighthood recounted in the books left carelessly about 
by her mother to the father’s high displeasure. The children sur¬ 
reptitiously gorged on the forbidden fruit and Teresa became a 
wicked woman. She used perfume. Her mother died when she 
was only fourteen and Teresa besought the Virgin Mary to be 
henceforth her mother. When an older half sister married and 
left the home, the father, feeling that she needed motherly care, 
placed her in a convent. In time, to his distress, she was disposed 
to take the vows. Should she not wait till after his death? But she 
was insistent and he became reconciled. She was then twenty. 3 

Now began a quarter of a century of wrestling with the angel, 
questing to experience the presence of God, to be utterly united 
with him in the bond of unfeigned love. The way was tortuous 
with risings and fallings in the course of a steady progression. 
She delineated the stages by the analogy of the modes of filling 
the cisterns. 4 The first was laboriously to draw water from a well 
with a bucket and a rope. The next was to employ one of those 
little Moorish windlasses in use on every Castillian farm. This 
was easier than the first and harder than the third which was to 
dip a pan into a living stream and the water would be purer 
than in any well. The fourth stage was to lay out vessels in the 
open to catch the rain coming down from above. The first three 
involved degrees of human effort. The last was solely the gift 
of God. 

Her fourfold scheme is not that of the traditional demarcation 
of the stations along the mystic way of purification, illumination 
and unification. She was familiar with the pattern but like other 
mystics did not relish geometrical precision. Yet her delineation 

Teresa of Avila 49 

of her spiritual struggles corresponds very well with the threefold 

The first is purification. It affects the body and even more the 
soul and spirit which are not to be distinguished. In the case of 
the body, the object is by disciplined living to subdue the lusts 
of the flesh, the gratification of passion, the coddlings of com¬ 
fort. The extreme device is the mortification of the flesh through 
self-inflicted pain, the wearing of hair shirts, flagellation, fasting. 

Teresa did not absolutely eschew such methods and used them 
herself to a degree but mortifications were not of themselves an 
end in her eyes and should not be taken to excess to the detri¬ 
ment of health. The body is indeed the cage of the spirit, but 
the cage should be kept in good order. When her brother, a 
widower with two sons, asked her whether he should become a 
monk, the answer was, “No. Look after your boys.” Well, what 
then would she think of his wearing a hair shirt? “Not oftener 
than twice a week/’ she answered, “And only during the day. 
Do not sleep in it and if it goes all round the body put a linen 
cloth over the belly. God prefers health and obedience to your 
penances. Get enough sleep and enough food. What is the point 
of mortification? The real point is the love of God." 5 

There are other ways of controlling the body than by the inflic¬ 
tion of pain. One is simple living. Wear used clothes, worn and 
patched but neat, not smelling of sweat. 0 Wear sackcloth or a 
horse blanket, no shoes or only peasant sandles. Be abstemious 
in eating and drinking. If rich, live as if poor. 7 For St. Francis, 
Lady Poverty gave liberation from the distractions and conten¬ 
tions of possessions. For Teresa she was closer to mortification to 
curb the selfish cravings of the natural man. 8 

Purification of the spirit is vastly more important than of the 
flesh and more difficult, for it means the overcoming of self-love, 
the readiness in utter obedience to follow what one deems to be 
the commands of God. Along with love, humility is here the 
cardinal virtue. Humility is better than fasts. 9 . It is not a false 
modesty. 10 When Teresa heard someone call her a saint, she 
ejaculated, “I have been told I am good looking and I have not 
demurred. I have been told I’m brilliant and I have not contra¬ 
dicted, but a saint—oh, no.” 11 She would have no titles to set her 


Teresa of Avila 

off from others and as a prioress would not be called reverend. 12 
Humility welcomes criticism 13 and does not defend itself even 
against false accusations, 14 but if someone else were maligned 
Teresa was quick with the poignard. The Samaritan woman was 
her especial favorite because when Jesus reminded her of her 
loose life, she did not bristle but called him a prophet. 15 Harbor 
no restentment 16 and be not outraged by an injustice. Once 
Teresa, in a coarse mantle, was jammed in a crowd in a church. 
A peasant woman accused her of stealing her clog and with the 
other gave her a pummeling. Teresa laughed at the error. 17 

Illumination is the second stage in the sequence of the mystic 
way, but Teresa made no sharp demarcations. She talks much of 
prayer and meditation which both purge and enlighten. Prayer 
involves human effort as “the hart pants after the water 
brooks/’ 18 Illumination is the response to him who “sends forth 
his light and his truth.” 10 The approach to God is always open. 
There is no need to make an appointment, no protocol in heaven, 
no need for a Lord High Chamberlain to usher one into the pres¬ 
ence of the King of kings. Prayer is efficacious in calming the 
spirit, in affecting the course of nature, sometimes averting disas¬ 
ters, and especially in the affairs of men whether in this life 
or the next 20 

Prayer is of two kinds, vocal and mental. The vocal is com¬ 
monly the use of a liturgical form or any verbalization. Mental 
prayer is more a matter of mood and is scarcely to be distin¬ 
guished from meditation. 21 And this also takes two forms, the 
ones we have already noted in the case of Alcaraz: relaxation 
(clexamiento) and concentration (recogimiento ) 22 Teresa pre¬ 
ferred the latter and centered her meditation on the humanity 
of Christ. In this she resembled Loyola who in his Spiritual Exer¬ 
cises demanded intense and exclusive concentration upon one 
episode after another, strictly one at a time. 23 

In the life of Christ she had a penchant for scenes involving 
women, the Samaritan woman, 24 as just noted, and often Mary 
and Martha. 25 Of course, the sufferings of Christ were not over¬ 
looked. When she was grieving over the wounds from the crown 
of thorns, he appeared to her and said that these were not so 
grievous as the wounds daily inflicted. 26 She confessed that in the 

Teresa of A vila 51 

beginning she had had great difficulty in achieving concen¬ 
tration. 27 

The third station of the mystic ascent was unification. For 
Teresa it included two subdivisions, communion and union. 
Both were solely the work of God. Communion came through 
visions. The spirits appeared of her father and mother, St. Claire, 
the Virgin, Joseph and the Trinity, but most frequently Christ. 28 
Sometimes she had visions termed “intellectual, 1 " in which there 
was only the sense of a presence. Such a vision might last for a 
year. 29 Other visions were so vivid that she tried to detect the 
color of Christ’s eyes 30 and so auditory as to become long con¬ 
versations. Christ could never be summoned by rubbing on some 
Aladdin’s lamp, but whenever she was in need he was invariably 
there. She could have sung the Protestant hymn, “He walks with 
me and he talks with me." 

One who is a stranger to such experiences is prone to think of 
her as “trailing clouds of glory" from her heavenly home and 
living in a world where fact and fancy blend. How reassuring she 
found these visitations! Christ brought her consolation, encour¬ 
agement, counsel and command. He told her precisely what she 
was to do. There was no call for the courage of an Abraham who 
“went out not knowing whither he went." Yet Teresa was no 
child. If it were Christ who spoke, her assurance was complete, 
but was it Christ after all? Well she knew that the devil could 
appear in the guise of the Redeemer. How could she tell? She 
asked her confessor, who told her to make the sign of the cross 
which would avaunt the evil one. She feared to be crossing every 
second and instead brought along a crucifix. When Christ next 
appeared she apologized for this mark of distrust. He assured her 
that it was quite all right because she did it out of obedience. 31 

Her ultimate test for the supernatural source of these experi¬ 
ences was to be found in the fruits of the spirit. If they made 
her more disinterested, sympathetic, tender and loving then they 
were of God. 32 A modern psychologist might suspect that she put 
into the mouth of Christ precisely that which she wanted him 
to say. This is correct only if one remembers that she wanted 
him to say what she did not want him to say. There was in her 
subconscious a conflict between desire and conscience. Not what 


Teresa of Avila 

she craved on the top level of the subconscious but what she felt 
she ought to crave at the deepest level was what Christ would 
enjoin. Once, for example, when she was engaged in founding 
new monasteries she was called to return to the convent of the 
Incarnation as prioress. She did not want to leave what she was 
doing. Christ said “Go/' And she went in joyous obedience . 88 

Along with communion came union. This was an experience 
of rapture, ecstasy, trance. Sometimes it came tumultuously, ir¬ 
resistibly, devastatingly with physical accompaniments such as 
temporary paralysis. The senses are suspended, the memory void, 
the imagination benumbed. The experience may last no longer 
than the saying of an Ave Maria. The transports of joy exceed 
all the delights of entrancing vistas of woods and waters. The 
rapture is indescribable and incommunicable. This is what “eye 
hath not seen, ear hath not heard, neither hath it entered into 
the heart of man /’ 34 One can talk only of inebriation, intoxica¬ 
tion, madness. The fool in Christ is drunk with God . 35 Moses 
could not describe what he had experienced before the burning 
bush. He could deliver to the children of Israel only those words 
which the Lord placed in his mouth . 36 

In the mystical experience there is such a union of man with 
God that man may be said to have become God, for God 
became man in order that man might become God. The incar¬ 
nation is to a degree universalized. This does not mean, of 
course, that man becomes the Lord God Omnipotent. Nor does 
it mean that the individual is swallowed up in the abyss of 
being. The union is more nearly that of the will . 37 A favorite fig¬ 
ure with the mystics was that of a candle burning in the sun¬ 
light. Because of the greater brilliance the flame of the candle 
is not seen. The candle remains, however, an individual candle. 
The nature of the union is expressed by various figures, a num¬ 
ber of which appear in the writings of Teresa. The union is like 
the conjunction of fire and flame, like the merging of rain water 
with that of a spring, the running together of molten wax from 
two candles, the blending of lights coming in through two win¬ 
dows . 38 There is that of God in man. 

The sense is best expressed in prayers of exultation. Teresa 

Teresa of Avila 


O King of glory, Lord of Lords, Emperor of Emperors, holy 
of the holiest, power above all powers, wisdom above all wis¬ 
doms. Truth itself art Thou and riches. Of Thy reign there is 
no end. Thy perfections cease not. Infinite are they above all 
understanding, a bottomless ocean of wonders, a loveliness 
comprising all beauties and strength. O that I had the tongue 
to declare what here below cannot be known save for the 
lineaments in a measure of him who is our Lord and peace.*™ 

Or take the first stanza of her poem: 

I live, yet live not in me. 

I crave another life on high. 

I die because I cannot die. 40 

Such intense exaltations were not of long duration and in 
between would come long periods of drought, dryness, aridity, 
melancholy, the dark night of the soul. 41 She knew from experi¬ 
ence and offered prescriptions: continuance in prayer, diverting 
conversation, a stroll in the woods, care for the body. 42 This last 
injunction was particularly timely because the rhythms of the 
spirit were paralleled by those of the body. She had known 
alternations of physical debility and vitality. Once she had been 
taken for dead and for three years was a paralytic. Often she 
vomited in the morning and could not take food until midday. 43 
Was there any correlation and causal connection between the 
physical and spiritual oscillations? To a degree she observed it 44 
and ascribed a certain woman’s depressions to “a strong imagi¬ 
nation, a disordered body and the devil.” 45 Trance might cause 
a shock. 40 Raptures brought rather improvement in health. 47 

Now after twenty-five years in the enclosure of the Incarna¬ 
tion, she became a “gadabout,” founding throughout Castille 
and Andalusia new monasteries where women and men could 
dwell in holy seclusion. Why such a change? It was not as abrupt 
as may appear. She maintained always that the contemplative 
and the active lives should be conjoined. Jesus chided Martha 
for complaining of Mary but did not tell her to go and join her 
sister. In that case there would have been no dinner. 48 When 


Teresa of Avila 

Teresa was at the Incarnation she was happy to spend hours 
sweeping 49 and, though she resented interruption in her devo¬ 
tions by taking time to eat , 50 she stood ready to drop all at the 
call of pots and pans . 51 And if, during her evening prayers, she 
heard a sister groping for her cell, Teresa would hasten to bring 
a candle 52 

Besides, Teresa did not regard her prayers as inactive and in¬ 
operative. The defenders of the church, the preachers, scholars 
and administrators in order to roll back the ravages of the Luther¬ 
ans, needed to have their hands upheld by a humble little 
woman . 53 And beyond the grave also her intercessions were po¬ 
tent. There was a man, who having been marvelously helpful in 
enabling her to start a new foundation, died unable to make con¬ 
fession because of a loss of speech. Teresa entreated the Lord 
Jesus to excuse him from purgatory and take him straight to 
heaven. Jesus thought this inappropriate but promised to release 
the man after the first mass had been said in the new foundation. 
Thereupon the liberated soul appeared in a vision to tender his 
most heartfelt gratitude . 54 

But if Teresa was so powerful with her prayers why the shift 
to the new mode of activity? The answer is obedience. She be¬ 
came acquainted with the primitive rule of the Carmelites in 
accord with the word of Christ to sell all and his example of 
having nowhere to lay his head. Teresa may have been unaware 
that she was picking up a theme agitated for centuries by the 
Franciscans and being revived in her own day in Italy by the 
Capuchins. In utter devotion to Lady Poverty they would not 
gather into bams, wear soft raiment or put on shoes to traverse 
the rough roads of Italy. Teresa would do the like for Spain. 

She must first examine herself as to whether she was living up 
to the rule. It forbade possessions and she possessed images of 
Jesus, Mary and the saints. Were they not property in violation 
of the rule? She thought a picture on a piece of paper would not 
be an infringement. Her confessor told her that images of the 
Holy Family and the saints were exempt from the rule. She was 
greatly relieved for she was sure that the poor Lutherans in 
giving up images were on the way to perdition . 55 

Teresa now resolved to establish a new foundation. She was 

Teresa of Avila 


quite sure that the one hundred and eighty sisters at the Incar¬ 
nation abbey would not be converted overnight to such rigor. 
Consequently with only two sisters she set out to establish a new 
house. Her own sister greatly helped by providing an abode. 
Then this frail figure, clad in sackcloth or a horseblanket, in 
peasant footwear, would move into a dilapidated hut and over 
night convert it into a chapel with an altar to the Son of God. 
Time after time she travelled in covered wagons, through torrid 
heat and congealing cold, over roads dusty, muddy or frozen, 
over fords in ferries where the cable might break and send the 
scow careening over rapids until beached on the sandbank. 50 

Her foundations were all dedicated to Saint Joseph because 
Mary would certainly have been pleased to see him given recog¬ 
nition for all the chores he did on her behalf. 57 Teresa had evi¬ 
dently been afFected by a new style in the depictions of Joseph 
holding a lantern, kindling a fire, boiling soup and drying dia¬ 
pers. But she did not originate the cult of Joseph. 

The hardships of travel were the least of her trials. Obedience 
was her watchword, but to whom? To Christ, of course, but on 
earth to whom? to the king? to the pope? Both desired reform in 
Spain. Philip II and the popes of the Counter-reformation shared 
the same aims but were at odds as to who should take the lead. 
The saying was “There is no pope in Spain.” 58 A pattern had 
been developing over the centuries of control of the church by 
the crown, a comparative independence from Rome and undevi¬ 
ating orthodoxy. The institution of the Spanish Inquisition was 
more a royal than papal affair. 

The crown and the tiara were not the only ones at odds. The 
general of the Carmelites, invariably an Italian, resident in 
Italy, clashed with the provincial in Spain. The provincial’s 
jurisdiction might overlap with that of the bishop and he must 
consult the mayors and town councils when it came to permis¬ 
sion for the introduction of more holy beggars. The municipal 
authorities might be sustained or reversed by the governor. 

In dealing with all these Teresa could count on stout support 
from three men. The first was King Philip II. She wrote to him. 59 
She went to Madrid and called on him. He allowed her to kiss 
his hand. 00 Her two great lieutenants were St. John of the Cross 


Teresa of Avila 

and Gracian. The first was a marvelous director of souls. Gracian, 
just under thirty, son of the king's secretary, might have become 
a distinguished diplomat had he not chosen to join the saints in 
rags . 01 He was eminently qualified to deal with the chiefs of 
church and state. 

The foundations might have been established more smoothly 
had they been only for women. But when Gracian moved to 
extend the reform to men, terror struck the unreformed male 
Carmelites lest the movement should so far spread as to engulf 
them also. They were known as the followers of the Mitigated 
Rule, and also as the Calced, that is the shod, as over against 
the Discalced, the shoeless. Teresa called the Calced the Grass¬ 
hoppers and her Discalced the Butterflies . 62 

As the tension mounted the general of the Carmelites, the Ital¬ 
ian Rubeo, decided to break the traditional practice and go to 
Spain himself. He came not too favorably disposed toward the 
reformers but was won over by Teresa. As for the mayor and 
the governor, she confronted them in person with equal irre¬ 

But now the Calced took fright and were favored when a new 
papal nuncio, named Sega, came to Spain determined to assert 
his authority and to demand absolute allegiance from Teresa, 
John of the Cross and Gracian. Teresa he described as “a restless, 
gadabout, disobedient, contumacious woman who promulgates 
pernicious doctrine under pretense of devotion. She leaves her 
cloisters against the orders of her superiors contrary to the de¬ 
crees of the Council of Trent. She is ambitious and teaches the¬ 
ology as if she were a doctor of the Church in spite of St. Paul's 
prohibition." 03 As for Gracian, Sega would return to Rome if 
this defier of his jurisdiction were not burned . 64 

This was not idle talk. John of the Cross was kidnapped and 
for nine months imprisoned with treatment more harsh than 
any inflicted by the Inquisition. Solitary, hungry, amid stenches, 
with no light save through a small aperture in the ceiling, he 
was beaten daily . 65 Gracian carried hard boiled eggs in the shell 
to forefend poisoning . 66 Teresa hid. She appealed to Philip II 
who resisted the papal nuncio but could not secure the release 
of John of the Cross, for who knew where he was? He proved 

Teresa of Avila 


himself to be no mere transcendental dreamer, for with great 
ingenuity he contrived to loosen the screws in the lock and hav¬ 
ing made a rope from shreds of his bedclothes he let himself 
out of a window. Gracian was briefly imprisoned. At last the pope 
agreed to separate the Carmelites into two provinces, the Calced 
and the Discalced, each with its own provincial. The Butterflies 
were free from the Grasshoppers. 67 

Teresa’s work was now essentially done. She lived two more 
years and established two more foundations, making fifteen in 
all. One marvels that this visionary was so astonishingly endowed 
with that uncommon quality commonly called common sense. 
She was amused by petty legalists as to obedience. Once she was 
standing with a prioress on the edge of a pool with a sister 
nearby. Teresa said to the prioress, “What would you think if I 
were to tell that sister to jump in the pool?" The girl overheard 
and jumped. 68 Another nun came to the prioress for her to ad¬ 
mire a lovely worm. “O yes," smiled the prioress, “Why don’t 
you cook it and have it for supper?" And she went off and did 
(at any rate the cooking). 69 

Teresa did not approve of the practice of sisters who would 
slap and pinch each other to provide exercise in patience. 70 And 
she was tart with a worry wart who had come with her into a 
rough neighborhood to start a foundation. As the two were 
sleeping together the companion fidgeted. “What’s the matter 
with you?" asked Teresa. “I was thinking," she answered, “how 
dreadful it would be if I died suddenly during the night and 
left you to fend for yourself." “I’ll take that on when it comes," 
responded Teresa. “Go to sleep." 71 She was quite able to twit 
and to be twitted. To a friend she wrote, “You find it as hard 
to write a long letter as I a short." 72 She asked Gracian to sug¬ 
gest for her a mortification. He replied, “Have your picture 
painted." 73 

One of the most attractive aspects of her common sense is the 
recognition of human varieties. We are not all like the Apostle 
Paul. 71 We need not all be angels to pray, “Hallowed be thy 
name." 70 Some experience aridities at the beginning and some 
at the end of the spiritual pilgrimage. 76 In her own devotions 
she had experienced variant moods. 77 Some persons are capable 

Teresa of Avila 


of mortifications and some are not . 78 When against her inclina¬ 
tion she was made prioress at the Incarnation a minority were 
disgruntled fearing that she would impose on them her austeri¬ 
ties. She did not, for mortifications are worthless if not wished . 79 
Let none be envious or slack because endowed with lesser gifts. 
She herself had not been granted the gift of song . 80 If we cannot 
mount up with wings as eagles let us not shuffle like a hobbled 
hen . 81 

For all her mortifications she did not decline to enjoy life's 
simple joys. “I loved/' she wrote, “to look upon field, stream and 
flowers. In them I saw traces of the Creator.'' 82 In one of her 
foundations she had a cell looking out upon a river. Lying in 
bed she found solace in watching its flow . 83 She took delight in 
a little girl at the nunnery. Of her she wrote: “The little crea¬ 
ture's wits are extraordinary. She has a few poor little statues of 
some shepherds, some nuns, and a figure of our Lady, and not 
a feast day comes around, but she invents some little scene with 
them: she composes verses, and sings them to us so well and to 
such a pretty tune that we are astonished .” 84 Teresa herself 
talked to images of Jesus and Mary as if they were dolls 85 and 
decorated the statuettes of the saints with flowers . 80 

Since Teresa's interiorization of religion resembled that of the 
Alumbrados investigation by the Inquisition was to be expected. 
When word of this came to her, she could not refrain from 
laughing that she should be suspect, despite her utter devotion 
to the doctrine and rules of the church. She rejected neither hell 
nor purgatory, and, as for the Trinity, would venture no opin¬ 
ion on points she did not understand. The external aids to reli¬ 
gion, though not of the essence, were not to be abandoned: 
images, rosaries, liturgical prayers, genuflections and the like. 
Holy water differs from ordinary water by reason of the ordi¬ 
nance of the church, and Teresa found it very effectual. Investi¬ 
gations for a full decade left her unperturbed, save for the fear 
of impediment to her work. She was at length completely vindi¬ 
cated . 87 

A paramount question concerning the role of women in the 
religious movements of the sixteenth century is what Teresa her¬ 
self thought about her role. No woman thus far examined had 

Teresa of Avila 


as much to say on this point as she. This is partly because she 
wrote so much. Her meditations for her sisters and daughters 
often contain asides about their sex. The greater part of her 
letters are to men. This was inevitable because during the twenty- 
five years in the nunnery of the Incarnation she had no occasion 
to address letters to the sisters. When, however, she emerged as 
the foundress of new houses her dealings with officials were en¬ 
tirely with men. The popes were men as were the kings, the 
generals and provincials of the order, the bishops, mayors and 
governors. And what is more significant for her spiritual devel¬ 
opment, all of her confessors were men. 

In assessing her comments one needs to have in mind her 
situation. In Spain, as elsewhere throughout Europe, women did 
not enjoy an equal status. 88 For wives, though not for husbands, 
adultery was a crime. Women did, indeed, have property rights, 
but in the field of education they were seldom taught more than 
to read and write. The ideal of humanist education for women 
voiced by Erasmus was for a time in vogue but declined as his 
star was eclipsed. The unmarried woman had little opportunity 
for an independent career. She might be a prostitute, a nun or 
a housekeeper and servant. In literary circles there were defend¬ 
ers as well as detractors of women. Probably the most invidious 
detractors were the clergy because they held to the myth of the 
fall of man through Eve and enforced the injunction of the 
Apostle Paul that women should be silent in church and not 
too voluble anywhere. 80 Ecclesiastes might refer to women as 
mujeres y ydiotas, women and blockheads. The word ydiola in 
Spanish does not mean idiot, but rather simply unlettered, but 
the tone is very derogatory. Teresa’s project of founding new 
monasteries was mocked as a piece of women's foolishness. 90 

The inferior status of women was, of course, an undeniable 
fact. Teresa took note of the double standard as to chastity. 91 
To a degree she accepted also the current belief in the inferiority 
of women. Their frailties, she said, expose them especially to the 
wiles of Satan. 92 Girls are harder to teach than boys. 93 Weak and 
irresolute women, like Teresa herself, need some consolations 
that they may weather the tribulations which God chooses to 

Teresa of Avila 


impose. 04 Being a woman is enough to deflate one’s sails without 
being also a wicked woman 05 (as Teresa esteemed herself to be). 

Sometimes the assumed weakness of women was used as a foil to 
ward off inquisitorial prying into theological niceties. How could 
a poor unlettered woman be expected to understand such ques¬ 
tions? 00 She did not pretend to fathom all the aspects of the 
Trinity 07 but because of such incapacity should women be de¬ 
prived of the riches of the Lord? 08 

In some respects, however, Teresa insisted on the superiority 
of women. The favors of the Lord are more often granted to 
them. “Peter Alcantara said this and my experience confirms it. 
‘Women,' he said, ‘make greater progress on the path to per¬ 
fection than men.’ He gave excellent reasons for this which 
there is no need to repeat.” 09 (Too bad!) “But how about the 
injunction of the Apostle Paul that women should keep silent 
in church?” “Don't go by one text only.” 100 Women are more 
loving than men and have other gifts of service to the com¬ 
munity. They take time to share their concerns and just to chit¬ 
chat, and they form close intimacies. 101 

Whatever the weakness of women it gave the Lord an oppor¬ 
tunity to exhibit his power in working wonders through infirm 
vessels. Here is a passage which blends the status of women, the 
weakness of women and the Lord’s doing. Teresa tells of a woman 
who is grieved over the deficiency of her sex and envies those who 
are free to lift up their voices proclaiming the greatness of the 
Lord of Hosts. 

Poor little fettered butterfly who cannot fly where she 
will! Have pity on her, O Lord, that she may be able to 
accomplish something for thy honor and glory. Look not 
upon her meagre desert and the lowliness of her sex. Thou, 
O Lord, canst repel the ocean and open the Jordan that the 
children of Israel may pass through. Show forth thy power 
in this thy creature, weak and womanly, that all may see it 
is not of her and give to thee the glory. 102 

There was another advantage which she would never have 
thought to adduce that women have a way with men by virtue 
of feminine graces. One may surmise that Rubeo, the general of 

Teresa of Avila 


the Carmelites, when he came to Spain ill disposed to her re¬ 
form, was won over by her earnestness in part, but also per¬ 
haps by a disarming smile from beneath the hood of a horse 
blanket with bare toes peeking from below. 

But though the friendships of Teresa with men were inti¬ 
mate, there is no trace of the erotic in her deportment or writ¬ 
ing. Her commentary on the first verse of the Song of Solomon, 
“O that you would kiss me with the kisses of your lips," is very 
different from that of St. Bernard who treats the reference to the 
lips as an expression of passionate desire. She asks, as he did, 
“Why the lips?" And answers, “I don’t know. It signifies a very 
great love. 103 She used, of course, some of the bridal imagery 
of the New Testament. The Lord Jesus was her groom and 
brought to her as an engagement ring a nail (from his cross). 104 

Her piety is well epitomized in a poem often attributed to her 
though quite possibly anonymous. 105 

I love thee not, my God, for heaven’s reward. 

I fear thee not for hell’s eternal flame. 

Were there no hell I’d love thee just the same. 

Were there no hell still would I fear thee, Lord. 

I’m moved to see thy lacerated side. 

I’m moved to look when hands and feet are nailed. 

I’m moved to see thy body so impaled. 

To look upon thee mocked and crucified. 


Obras Completas (abbr. Ob.) ed. Efren de la Madre dc Dios y Otger 
Steggink, 2d ed. (Madrid, 1967). This edition is not quite complete as 
to the letters. Some I have used in the English translation The Letters 
of Saint Teresa , 4 vol. (London, 1919-1929). Abbr. Lett. The notes 
and introductions are very useful. 

Ribera’s life has been available to me only in a French translation: 
Vie de Sainte Terese par Francois de Ribera (Paris, 1884). 

Several of Teresa’s works are available in English separately. The chap¬ 
ters correspond to the Obras in number but not the subdivisions. Her 
autobiography The Life of St. Teresa of Jesus was translated by David 
Lewis (London, 1904). 

The Interior Castle (the Moradas) (London, 1912). 



Teresa of Avila 

The Book of Foundations, translated by John Dalton (London, i860). 

The Way of Perfection (Camino), translated by Alice Alexander (West¬ 
minster, Maryland, 1946) reads delightfully but is difficult to check 
with the Spanish because readings have been taken from different 

Lovet, Lady and Benson, R. H. The Life of Saint Teresa (London, 
1912), sparsely documented and hagiographic. 

Crisogondo de Jesus, Santa Teresa de Jesus (Barcelona, 1942), docu¬ 

Underhill, Evelyn, Mysticism (London, 1930), illuminating. 

Martinez, Enrique Llamas, Santa Teresa de Jesus y la Inquisition 
Espanola (Madrid, 1972), detailed. 

Villanueva, Francisco Mdrquez, “Santa Teresa y el Linaje,” pp. 139-202 
in “Espiritualidad y'Literatura en el Siglo XVI,” Hombres, Hechos 
e Ideas, XVI (Madrid, 1968). Her partial converso lineage. 


* denotes section or paragraph. 

1. RI, p. v. 

2. 06 . introduction p. 1. 

3. Autobiography Ob. p. 59®. and R. 

4. Ob. p. 59 * 7 - ^ . 

5. Ob. pp. 852!; 178 * 9; p. 848. Lett . II, pp. 253-4, cf. p. 242. Camino 
XI. Ob. p 230 # 17, p. 380-3. 

6. R II, p. 268. 

7. R II, p. 329, cf. pp. 268, 329. 

8. R II. xvi. p. 235. 

9. Ob. p. 235. 

10. Ob. p. 241. 

11. Too good not to be true. Note lost. 

12. Lett. IV, p. 142. 

13. R II, p. 250. 

14. Ob. p. 238. 

15. Ob. p. 360 * 7. 

16. Ob. ch. XI, p. 194 f. 

17. R II, p. 254. 

18. Ps. 42:1. 

19. Ps. 43:3. 

20. Ob. p. 169, # 6. 

21. Camino ch. XXXVII-XLI, Ob. 264-72. 

R II, P- 133 - 

22. Ob. p. 388 * 4. 

23. Ob. p. 281, * 3. 

24. Ob. p. 360 * 7. 

25. Ob. pp. 238, 246. 

Teresa of Avila 

6 S 

26. R I, p. 221. 

27. Ob. p. 36 * 9. 

28. Parents, Ob. p. 171 * 1; St. Claire, Joseph. Ob. p. 150. Mary Ob. 
pp. 464, 469. Trinity Ob. pp. 464, 482, R II, pp. 69, 72, 76. Christ 
Ob. p. 427 * 3, p 118 * 2. and passim. 

29. Ob. pp. 426-7, 431. 

30. Ob. 128 # 2. 

31. R I, p. 65, Ob. p. 129. 

32. Ob. p. 431. 

33. Ob. p. 560 * 3. 

34. I Cor. 2:9. King James. 

35. Suspensions: Ob. p. 63 * 5, p. 414, pp. 513, 605 * 36. Tumultuous 
Ob. p. 434. Inebriation Ob. p. 532 # 15, Ob. p. 125 * 9. 

36. Ob. p. 414 * 5. 

37. Ob. p. 399. 

38. Ob. p. 441 * 6, R II, p. 62. 

39. Ob. p. 266 # 6. 

40. Ob. p. 499. 

41. Fundaciones VII is devoted to Melancholia. Ob. 535 ff. 

42. Ob. p. 62 * 7; cf. p. 421 # 9; p. 720 * 4; R II, p. 142. 

43. Ob. p. 41 * 2; p. 46, * 11. 

44. Ob. p. 61 # 16. 

45. Ob. p. 804; Lett. II, 108. 

46. Ob. p. 91 * 9. 

47. Ob. p. 455 * 31, cf. p. 94 * 21. 

48. Ob. p. 246 # 5. 

49. Ob. p. 35 * 2. 

50. Ob. 457 * 6. 

51. Ob. 528 * 8. 

52. R II, p. 194. 

53. Ob. p. 197 * 2. 

54. Ob. p. 54 * 2. 

55. Fundaciones Ob. p. 514 ff. & R. 

56. Ob. p. 483. 

57. Ob. pp. 42-43. 

58. Otger Steggink, La Reforma del Carmel Espanol (Rome, 1965) p. 
10. Excellent on the jurisdictions. 

59. Ob. p. 737, no. 84. 

60. Lett. Ill, p. 17. 

61. Lett. I, p. 192 note. 

62. Ob. p. 815 # 3. 

63. Lett. Ill, pp. 157-8. 

64. Lett. Ill, p. 109 

65. Crisogono de Jesus, Life of St. John of the Cross (Ld., 1958). 

66. Lett. I p. 270. 

67. Ob. p. 612 # 30. 

6 4 

Teresa of Avila 

68. Ob. p. 558 * 3. 

69. Ob. p. 566 * 12. 

70. Ob. p. 808 * 13. 

71. Ob. p. 568 * 5. 

72. Ob. p. 77 * 12. 

73. Lett. II, p. 137 note. 

74. Ob. p. 352 * 3, cf. pp. 245, 288. 

75. Ob. p. 288. 

76. R II, p. 146 * 16. 

77. Ob. p. 432. 

78. O6.565. 

79. Crisogono, pp. 71-74. 

80. Ob. p. 142 * 23. 

81. Ob. p. 180 * 12. 

82. Ob. p. 53 * 5. 

83. Ob. p. 56. 

84. Lett. II, p. 211. 

85. R II, p. 165. 

86. R II, p. 169. 

87. Ob. pp. 148-9 and Martinez. 

88. Melveena McKendrick, Woman and Society in the Spanish Drama 
of the Golden Age (Cambridge, Eng., 1974). 

89. Antonio Marquez, Los Alumbrados (Madrid, 1972). p. 142. 

90. Ob. p. 147. 

91. Ob. p. 385 * 5. 

92. Ob. p. 107. 

93. Ob. 706, no. 50. 

94. Ob. p. 61. 

95. Ob. p. 57 * 8. 

96. Ob. p. 59. 

97. Ob. p. 482 * 5. 

98. Ob. 336 * 9. 

99. Ob. p. 186 * 8. 

100. Ob. p. 463 * 16a. 

101. Ob. pp. 208-9 * 3. 

102. Ob. p. 420. 

103. Ob. pp. 336-7. 

104. R II, p. 175. 

105. Guillermo Diaz-Plaja, Antologia Mayor de la Literature Espahola 
II Renacimiento (Barcelona etc. 1958), p. 1016. 



(l 522 - 1560 ) 

1/ Luisa Sigea, our choice for Portugal, was not exactly Portu¬ 
guese, nor exactly a reformer. Her father came from France, 
attended the university of Alcala and there learned Latin, Greek 
and Hebrew. He married a woman of the Spanish nobility. For 
support he tutored in the court of the governor of Toledo, who, 
having placed himself at the head of the revolting Communeros, 
with their failure lost his head. His widow fled to Portugal and 
Sigea went with her and gave her support for nine years. In the 
meantime he became the father of two sons and two daughters 
whom he instructed in all the languages at his command and 
employed for Luisa a tutor in Arabic and Syriac. She is said to 
have been able to talk in a measure in these tongues before she 
could read, which is likely enough if they were spoken to her. 
Before the age of twenty she was renowned as a female prodigy, 
who a little later addressed Pope Paul III in a letter in five 
tongues. He had to get help to reply in kind. 

Luisa found employment as tutor to the infanta, Maria of 
the royal court of Portugal. The life there nauseated her, with 
all of the ambition, vanity, jealousy and the stilted cleverness of 
repartee. She married and left the court to enjoy a tranquil re¬ 
treat. But the stipend ceased. For a time help came through 
service to Maria of Hungary, then regent of the Netherlands (a 
sketch of her follows in this volume). On the abdication of her 
brother, the Emperor Charles V in 1555, Maria retired with him 


66 Luisa Sigea 

to Spain and there died after three years. Help from that source 
came to an end. 

Luisa then tried to secure employment for her husband by way 
of a petition to Philip II. No answer! When Philip married a 
French princess access to her was obtained through the French 
ambassador and another request presented. No answer! Then a 
plea to Don Carlos, the Spanish heir apparent. He was a degen¬ 
erate. No answer! 

Broken in spirit Luisa wrote to a friend. 

You have written me a letter which no one else could 
write and I would not have desired from any other. It 
exudes the fragrance of a life unspotted, which I would 
inhale were I not so spoiled by the stench of the human as 
to be incapable of the divine and must cry with Jeremiah, 
“Death has come into our windows." 1 Were I not so en¬ 
compassed by death as scarcely to know the meaning of life, 
enveloped in darkness and filled with horror by light; were 
I not torpid, enervated, with no lust for learning, like a 
weary invalid for whom the very curatives have become in¬ 
sipid. If I have not responded, the cause is shame and re¬ 
morse for my indolence. 1 am undeserving of your praise, 
though eager for your counsel. Help me with your words 
and guidance. I have not strength for the path of life. 2 

A few weeks after the writing of this letter she was claimed 
by death. We have from her pen a work extant in only one 
copy, a dialog between two women, Blesilla, defending the con¬ 
templative life, and Flaminia the active. An old debate this was 
indeed, but there is here a different flavor because Luisa com¬ 
bines the humanist craving for a sylvan glade “far from the 
madding crowd's ignoble strife," where elect spirits can hold 
converse with each other and the immortal dead. This she com¬ 
bines with the revival of Catholic piety in prayer, meditation 
and ecstasy. Luisa brings to mind the sonnets of lamentation of 
Vittoria Colonna, whose work she knew and admired and the 
weariness of Marguerite of Navarre with all the trivial vanities 
of the courts of kings. There is also the same longing for learn¬ 
ing, light, wisdom and the vision of God. She blends, like the 

Luisa Sigea 67 

humanists, the strains of classical antiquity, especially of the 
moralists, Plato, Plutarch, Cicero and Seneca, together with the 
Torah, the prophets, the psalms and the canticles, with the gos¬ 
pels and Paul with the fathers, Chrysostom, Ambrose, Augustine, 
Cyril, Gregory, Bernard and the Imitation of Christ. 

Here is the final plea of Blesilla to Flaminia in favor of the 
contemplative life: 

If you have for virtue a passionate love—a simple love is 
not enough—you must be willing to die for it—then will it 
bring naught but blessedness and felicity. God inspires the 
will and the desire of those who love with a great love that 
exceeds their powers through faith in him and hope in his 
grace. With courage, then, flee [corruption]. We have our 
wings. Seek the God of Jacob, the face of God, as Bernard 
says, the face Jacob saw when he said, “I have seen God face 
to face, and yet my life is preserved/' 3 I tell you this, Fla¬ 
minia, that you may understand how marvelous is the ex¬ 
change of this vile, transitory, ephemeral life for life eternal. 
And you still hold back! You still do not leave the court, the 
turmoil of the town and the crowd. And you do not say 
with Paul to those upon the seas of the world, “We are fools 
in Christ." 

Don’t think that everything I have said would lead you to 
live alone. It is not good for a woman to live alone. No! 

I am suggesting that you withdraw from the throng with a 
few elect spirits and that you choose certain figures against 
whom to measure yourself. As Seneca advised Lucilius to 
take Cato, or if he is too exacting then Laelius, so I would 
propose Jerome and if he is too exacting, then Augustine. 

Retire [like Elijah] for forty days (I mean for your whole 
life) and having taken food go to Horeb the mount of God. 
The food is the word of God, which is sovereign, sharper 
than a two edged sword, penetrating to the division of soul 
and body. Your soul will be separated from your body and 
you will then have no struggle to separate yourself from the 
court and the city, as you do now. Do not wait, I repeat. 
Blaze with the fire that is never extinguished, never flickers. 


Luisa Sigea 

I mean the word of God, not the fire of the passions and lust. 
Shall we not cry with Augustine, “Give thyself to me, my 
God. Give thyself. See how I love thee and if I love not 
enough give me the more to love.” 1 2 3 4 Shall we not with him 
love God with a love and elan which are their own reward? 
We feed on the words of life eternal, ever breaking the bonds 
of the world. We enter the gardens of the bridegroom and 
faint for love of him, believing that the sole felicity is to love 
and be loved by him. O Flaminia, this peace is to be longed 
for. How important to know how to gain it.! Love is the 
way, love by which all is brought into existence. By such fer¬ 
vent love we are upheld, love without measure, for here the 
measure itself is to love without measure, with all the longing 
of the words of the psalm, “How 7 lovely is thy dwelling place, 
O Lord of hosts! My soul longs, yea faints for the courts of 
the Lord.” 5 

Flaminia is not persuaded. For her the greater heroism is to 
be in the world and remain unspotted by the world. The con¬ 
clusion is that each must be faithful to her own persuasion. 


This little sketch is based entirely on the article by Leon Bourdion 
and Odette Sauvage, “Recherches sur Luisa Sigea,” Bulletin des Etudes 
Portugeses, XXXI (1970), pp. 33-176. 1 am grateful to Elisabeth Hirsch 
for bringing this article to my attention. 

1. Jer. 9:21. 

2. Letter 22, pp. 130-33. 

3. Gen. 31:31. 

4. Conf. XIII, 8-9. 

5. Pp. 164-5. Ps. 84:2. 


The women deeply involved in the religious movements in 
Scotland in the age of the Reformation were with one exception 
intimately connected with John Knox, whether by antipathy or 
adulation. Unhappily most of our information about them 
comes to us only from his pen because he wrote so much and 
what he wrote was preserved. A pivotal figure he was but by no 
means the initiator of the Reformation in Scotland. When he 
assumed the helm, the Protestant movement was already so strong 
that the land was on the verge of civil war. 1 To understand the 
confrontations we must briefly review the background with the 
stages in the maturing of Knox’s ideas and of his active partici¬ 

The doctrines of the Reformation had infiltrated into Scotland 
well before the second half of the century. In 1545 Mary of Guise, 
the Queen Regent, was informed that heresy had so far pene¬ 
trated that to stem it by punishment was futile. Two years ear¬ 
lier Cardinal Beaton had made the attempt. He was a prince of 
the church, an astute diplomat, the father of eight illegitimate 
children, a stalwart champion of the establishment, who insti¬ 
tuted a hunt for heretics. Six were condemned to death, among 
them a woman named Helen Stark (or Stirk). The account of ^ 
their trials and executions is recorded by John Foxe in his Acts 
and Monuments on the basis of information supplied from Scot¬ 
land. He was informed that someone had interrupted the sermon 




of a friar and another had hung up an image of St. Francis with 
a ram's horn on the head and a cow's tail on the rump. As for 
the woman here is his account: 2 

The woman Hellen Stirke was accused, for that in her 
childbed she was not accustomed to call upon the name of 
the Virgin Mary, being exhorted thereto by her neighbours, 
but only upon God for Jesus Christ's sake; and because she 
said, in like manner, that if she herself had been in the time 
of the Virgin Mary, God might have looked to her humility 
and base estate, as he did to the Virgin’s, in making her the 
mother of Christ: thereby meaning, that there were no mer¬ 
its in the Virgin, which procured her that honour, to be 
made the mother of Christ, and to be preferred before other 
women, but that only God’s free mercy exalted her to that 
estate: which words were counted most execrable in the face 
of the clergy, and of the whole multitude. . . . 

After sentence given, their hands were bound, and the 
men cruelly treated; which thing the woman beholding, de¬ 
sired likewise to be bound by the sergeants with her husband 
for Christ’s sake. There was great intercession made by the 
town in the mean season for the life of these persons afore¬ 
named, to the governor, who of himself was willing so to 
have done, that they might have been delivered: but the 
governor was so subject to the appetite of the cruel priests, 
that he could not do that which he would. 

The woman desired earnestly to die with her husband, but 
she was not suffered; yet, following him to the place of exe¬ 
cution, she gave him comfort, exhorting him to perseverance 
and patience for Christ’s sake, and, parting from him with 
a kiss, said on this manner, “Husband, rejoice, for we have 
lived together many joyful days; but this day, in which we 
must die, ought to be most joyful unto us both because we 
must have joy for ever; therefore I will not bid you good 
night, for we shall suddenly meet with joy in the kingdom 
of heaven." The woman, after that, was taken to a place to 
be drowned, and albeit she had a child sucking on her 
breast, yet this moved nothing the unmerciful hearts of the 


7 1 

enemies. So, after she had commended her children to the 
neighbours of the town for God's sake, and the sucking bairn 
was given to the nurse, she sealed up the truth by her death. 

In the year 1546, again at the instigation of Cardinal Beaton, 
a martyrdom occurred destined to affect the entire course of the 
Reformation. The Protestant preacher, George Wishart, was 
burned. He was the mentor of John Knox, who by the death of 
his master was definitely rescued from the “puddle of Papacy." 3 
One year later Beaton was assassinated by certain Protestants 
with all the solemnity of a religious ritual. The conspirators 
took refuge in the castle of St. Andrews, where Knox joined 
himself to them as chaplain. The castle under siege might have 
resisted successfully save for the arrival of ships from France 
then in league with Scotland. After surrender, the leaders were 
treated as prisoners, the lesser sort, including Knox, went to the 
galleys. He continued at the oars until a treaty between France 
and England procured his release. For the remainder of the 
reign of Edward VI he remained in England, at first with pas¬ 
torates on the northern border, then with a royal chaplaincy in 
London. The accession of Mary Tudor and the restoration of 
Catholicism drove him to the continent. He returned briefly by 
sea to Scotland to marry and bring his bride and mother-in-law r 
to Geneva. Of that more later. He continued then as the leader 
of the congregation of English exiles in Geneva, until in 1559 
the death of Mary and the accession of Elizabeth led to the 
dispersion of the refugee congregation and Knox's return to 

He arrived with certain unshakable convictions of which the 
foremost was that the Mass was idolatry. 4 In a tract on that sub¬ 
ject he failed to adduce the most logical argument that the idol¬ 
atry consists in worshiping bread rather than God. He stressed 
rather the point that the Mass cannot be a sacrifice because 
Christ was sacrificed once and for all upon the cross. A further 
point was that the Mass is not an ordinance of God but rather an 
invention of man, because so divergent from the original Lord’s 
Supper. In the “papistical mass" the congregation sees “duck¬ 
ings, noddings, crossings, turning and uplifting which all are 



nothing but a diabolical profanation of Christ’s Supper,’’ where 
all offer thanks, humbly confess themselves redeemed only 
through Christ’s blood and “sit at ane tabill.” The withholding 
of the cup from the laity is another accretion. Knox showed no 
little erudition in pinpointing the times when each innovation 
had been introduced. For what reason all this should have been 
called idolatry is not clear, though Knox said anything in reli¬ 
gion invented by the brain of man is idolatry. Whatever the 
logic, the conviction was plain: the Mass is idolatry and idolatry 
is worthy of death, whether inflicted by man or by God through 
plagues and disasters. The role played by heresy for the Catholic 
was transferred by Knox to idolatry. 5 

The second contention was that women should not exercise 
rulership. This view Knox set forth in a tract entitled The First 
Blast Against the Monstrous Regiment of Women * Monstrous 
meant against nature and regiment meant rule. Knox had in 
mind specifically two women rulers. The first was that “wicked 
Jezebel,” “Bloody Mary,” in England from whose persecution 
he was then in flight in Geneva. The other was the Queen Regent 
in Scotland, commonly called Mary of Guise, the most Catholic 
family in France. On the death of her husband, King James V, 
she had been crowned as regent. Knox said that to put a crown 
on her head was like “putting a saddle on an unruly cow.” 7 

If Knox had confined his invective to these two he would have 
been on sounder ground, but he launched into a diatribe against 
women in general as unsuited for governmental office. To elevate 
a woman to rule is to “defile, pollute and prophane the throne 
and seat of God.” The familiar New Testament texts were, of 
course, marshalled that women should not have authority over 
men (1 Tim. 2:12) and should receive instruction from their hus¬ 
bands (1 Cor. 11:3). The Bible is confirmed by nature, which 
paints women as “frail, impatient, feeble and foolish.” Experi¬ 
ence shows them to be “inconstant, variable, cruel and lacking 
the spirit of counsel and regiment.” It is against nature that “the 
foolish, mad and phrenetic should govern the discrete and give 
counsel to such as be of sober mind.” The brute beasts are not 
so degenerate. “No man ever saw the lion stoop before the lion¬ 
ess.” The nobility of England and Scotland, who suffer a woman 



to rule, are “inferior to brute beasts." The doctors of the church 
confirm the Bible and nature. Tertullian called woman the 
“porte and gate of the Devil." The conclusion is that “to pro¬ 
mote woman to rule is repugnant to nature, and contumely to 
God." “This monstriferous empire of women, amongst all the 
enormities that this day do abound upon the face of the whole 
earth, is the most detestable and damnable." 

Then Knox becomes specific. England, by betraying herself to 
the proud Spaniard, pandered to the inordinate appetite of that 
cruel monster Mary and the foolish governors of Scotland, yield¬ 
ing to a crafty dame, have resigned themselves to France. A 
woman reigning over man should be removed. Those who defend 
such impiety should be subject to death. Oaths made to such 
monsters are not binding. Let not that wicked Jezebel of England 
brag to have overcome Wyatt’s rebellion. She has not triumphed 
over God. We cannot forget Latimer, Ridley and Lady Jane. 
Mary’s reign will speedily cease. “The Trumpet hath once 

In the midst of this perfervid vindictiveness Knox introduced 
one exception: “God by his singular providence and grace ex¬ 
empted Deborah from the common malediction given to women." 
This left open the possibility that God might do the like again. 

A further conviction was that rulers violating God’s commands 
might be forcibly resisted even by the common man. The doc¬ 
trine of legitimate resistance to rulers, not by passive disobedi¬ 
ence but by the sword, had swiftly matured among the Prot¬ 
estants in little over a decade after 1550. The earlier view had 
been that the only proper course for a Christian was the refusal 
of obedience. Luther took this position when his translation of 
the New Testament was suppressed by the emperor, but when 
that same emperor undertook to stamp out Lutheranism, the 
citizens of Magdeburg issued a manifesto in 1550 8 declaring that, 
although indeed a private citizen might never wield the sword, 
one magistrate might resist another, the inferior against the supe¬ 
rior. In Germany that meant that the electors might depose the 
emperor whom they had elected. Luther concurred. But this doc¬ 
trine ceased to be useful for the Lutherans after they had secured 
toleration by the Peace of Augsburg in 1555. The Calvinists, who 



jfto &tteette in &cc fctngopme cun oj ongljt 

3lf &ttokes oi iSooomano boo fees Motet 
anp tcac blaft* 

The above is one of a series of satirical cartoons against the Protestants 
in the tract, An Oration Against the Vnlawfull Insurrections of the 
Protestants by Peter Frarin of Antwerp (Antwerp 1562). The inscription 
beneath reads: 

No Queene in her kingdome can or ought to syt fast, 

If Knokes or Goodmans bookes blowe any true blast. 

Goodman was Christopher Goodman, Knox's associate at Geneva, who 
published in 1558 die tract How Superior Powers Ought to Be Obeyed. 



were not included in that peace, took over the idea. For them 
the inferior magistrates were the princes of the blood who might 
resist the superior magistrate, in this case the king. Calvin dis¬ 
countenanced the conspiracy of Amboise, led only by a private 
citizen, but endorsed the armed resistance of the Huguenots in 
the first war of religion, because they were led by the Prince de 
Conde of the royal house of Bourbon. 

This attempt to be both constitutional and revolutionary broke 
down under pressure. Calvin’s associate Beza already in 1554 was 
willing to let the private citizen serve as the executor of God’s 
judgment. 9 Such also was the view of Christopher Goodman, 10 
a very close friend of Knox at Geneva, who had come to be of 
similar mind prior to the return to Scotland. 11 

A final conviction was that Catholics cannot be trusted. Do 
they not teach that the church keeps no faith with one who has 
no faith? A breach of promise to heretics is in their eyes no per¬ 
jury. 12 In line with such teaching had not Mary Tudor on her ac¬ 
cession promised religious liberty and then kindled the fires of 
Smithfield? And Mary of Guise had gone back on her promises. 
Knox called her “crafty and perfidious.’’ He was prepared to 
believe the same of her daughter, Mary Stuart. 

She in the meantime was still in France where she had been 
queen until the death of her husband, Francis II, in December 
1560. Not until a year and a half later did she assume her role 
as Queen of Scots. Like Knox, she came with some firm convic¬ 
tions. The first was that she was a Catholic and intended so to 
remain. She made the point very explicit in conversation with the 
English ambassador. Said she, “I have been brought up in this 
religion; and who might credit me in anything if I should show 
myself light in this case?” She had discussed such matters with 
her uncle, the Cardinal of Lorraine and found “no great reason 
to change my opinion.” The ambassador hoped for “a unity of 
religion in all Christendom.” She agreed, “but for my part, you 
may perceive I am none of those that will change my religion 
every year.” 13 

The other point was her determination to be the ruler and no 
symbolic queen of Scotland. Well before her return she had heard 
reports of the unruliness of her subjects. The English ambassador 



reported to Queen Elizabeth a statement made to him by Mary 
(Nov. 17, 1560) 14 

My subjects in Scotland (quoth she), do their duty in noth¬ 
ing, nor have they performed their part in one thing that 
belongeth to them. I am their Queen, and so they call me, 
but they use me not so; they have done what pleaseth them. 
... I will have them assemble by my authority, and proceed 
in their doings by the laws of the realm, which they so much 
boast of and keep none of them. ... I am their Sovereign, 
but they take me not so; they must be taught to know their 

She was referring to the events which had lately transpired. 
Her mother had sought to restrain the Protestants. In answer to 
her summons they had arrived in steel bonnets and even went so 
far as to depose her in October 1559. She died in less than a year 
thereafter (June 10, 1560). The estates proceeded to draft the 
Treaty of Edinburgh (1560), which included the provision that 
in Scotland the jurisdiction of the pope was to be abolished and 
the Mass interdicted on pain of confiscation of goods for the first 
offense, exile for the second and death for the third. 

Mary arrived on the 19th of August, 1561, bringing with her, 
according to Knox, “Sorrow, dolour, darkness and all impiety.’' 15 
She was at once called upon to ratify the treaty and at once ob¬ 
jected to the interdiction of the Mass. To the English ambassador 
she explained: 1G 

You know (quoth she), there is much ado in my realm about 
matters of religion; and though there be a greater number 
of a contrary religion unto me than I would there were, yet 
there is no reason that subjects should give a law to their 
Sovereign, and specially in matters of religion, which, I fear 
(quoth she), my subjects shall take in hand. 

The ambassador answered: 

Religion is of the greatest force that may be. You have been 
long out of your realm, so as the contrary religion to yours 
has won the upper hand, and the greatest part of your realm. 
Your mother was a woman of great experience, of deep dis- 



simulation, and kept that realm in quietness, till she began 
to constrain men’s consciences; and as you think it unmeet 
to be constrained by your subjects, so it may like you to con¬ 
sider the matter is also intolerable to them to be constrained 
by you in matters of conscience; for the duty due to God 
cannot be given to any other without offence of his Majesty. 

Why (said she), God does command subjects to be obe¬ 
dient to their Princes, and commands Princes to read his law, 
and govern thereby themselves and the people committed to 
their charges. 

Yea, Madam (quoth I), in those things that be not against 
his commandments. 

Well (quoth she), I will be plain with you; the Religion 
that 1 profess, I take to be most acceptable to God: and, in¬ 
deed, neither do I know nor desire to know any other. Con¬ 
stancy does become all folks well, but none better than 
princes, and such as have rule over realms, and especially in 
matters of Religion. ... I mean to constrain none of my sub¬ 
jects; and I trust they should have no support to constrain me. 

Mary then proceeded to have Mass celebrated in her private 
chapel in defiance of the interdiction of parliament. The mod¬ 
erates were inclined to let her have her way, provided she kept 
her word not to constrain her subjects. Even Knox might have 
been willing to let her go to perdition in her own way had he 
trusted her. Mary Tudor had made a like promise and the end 
was the fires of Smith field. 

There are modern interpreters who insist that Mary of Scots 
was not another Mary of England, but rather a liberal Catholic 
reared in France in an atmosphere of latitudinarianism. 17 Her 
mentor in younger years had been her uncle, the Cardinal of 
Lorraine, himself suspected of Lutheranism because he was 
willing to enter into dialogue with Lutherans and even Calvin¬ 
ists. True, but his object was simply to refute them. Rumor had 
it that he was so indifferent to religion as to advise Mary to turn 
Anglican to insure her accession to the throne of England. 18 He 
might indeed have counseled dissimulation in order to gain the 
power to suppress Anglicanism. At any rate he showed no mercy, 


7 8 

when, after the collapse of the conspiracy of Amboise, he visited 
hideous reprisals upon the defeated. He was a politique like the 
later Richelieu, who suppressed Protestants at home while abet¬ 
ting Protestants abroad. 

Mary's second mentor in France was Catherine de Medici, who 
took Mary under her wing when she became the queen of her 
son Francis II. Catherine, too, was a politique , who initiated the 
Colloquy of Poissy in the hope of reconciling the parties and 
insuring peace in the land, but when it did not come, instigated 
the massacre of St. Bartholomew. Mary would not have imbibed 
in France a Catholicism without fangs. 

Knox was the more convinced she was no tolerant liberal when 
her first “private" Mass was anything but private. We have a 
description from the pen of a Scot writing to Elizabeth's Lord 
Secretary. Said he: 19 

What troubles have arisen in this country for religion your 
Honour knoweth. All things are now grown into such a 
liberty, and her Grace taketh unto herself such a will to do 
therein what she lists, that of late, contrary to her own ordi¬ 
nances, as great numbers have repaired to her chapel to hear 
mass, as sometimes come to a common church to hear sermon. 
To have her mind alter'd for this freedom she desireth to 
have all men live as they list: she can hardly be brought, and 
thinketh it too great a subjection for her being a prince in 
her own country, to have her will broken therein. The sub¬ 
jects that desire to live in the true worship and fear of God 
offer rather their lives again to be sacrificed, than that they 
would suffer again such an abomination, yea, almost permit 
herself to enjoy the mass, which is now more plainly and 
openly spoken against by the preachers than ever was the 
Pope of Rome. This kindleth in her a desire to revenge, and 
breedeth in others a liberty to speak, and a will to attempt 
to mend that by force which by no other means they can get 

The writer adds that in connection with her Mass two blas¬ 
phemies occurred. A schoolmaster, to affront the ministers, bap¬ 
tized a cat in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy 



Ghost. The queen’s singing master asserted that he would give 
no more credit to the New Testament than to a tale of Robin 
Hood except it were confirmed by the doctors of the church. 
Knox said that the queen, when she went on tour, took her Mass 
with her and “all parts she polluted with her idolatry.” 20 

Knox in a sermon blazed. That one Mass, said he, “was more 
fearful to him than if ten thousand armed enemies were landed 
in any part ol the realm of purpose to suppress the whole reli¬ 
gion.” 21 Mary summoned him to her presence and “had long 
reasoning with him.” 22 

Then ensued the famous confrontations 23 in which Knox has 
often been portrayed as a blustering bigot badgering a simple- 
lass. But Knox this time did not bluster and Mary was by no 
means simple. She accused him at first of having raised up a part 
of her subjects against her mother and herself. He replied that 
he had never stirred up sedition. In fact, he had discountenanced 
the rampant image breaking of the “rascal multitude.” But, con¬ 
tinued Mary, he had written a book against the regiment of 
women. Yes, he had, but it was not meant for her but rather for 
that Jezebel in England. This was disingenuous, for although 
there was no attack on Mary of Scots there was against her 
mother. Knox went on to say that so long as she did not defile 
her hands with the blood of the saints he would be content to 
live under her “Grace as Paul was to live under Nero.” Knox 
had a genius for the infelicitous. What he meant, of course, was 
that Paul had enjoined obedience to rulers and the ruler in his 
day happened to be Nero. 

She pressed him. If God commands subjects to obey their 
princes how can you teach people “to receive another religion 
than that which their princes can allow?” 

“Because,” Knox explained, “right religion does not stem from 
the authority of princes but from the eternal God.” Abraham 
did not submit to the religion of Pharaoh, the apostles to that of 
the Roman emperors or David to that of Nebuchadnezzar. 

“Yes,” she answered, “but none of these men raised the sword 
against their princes.” 

“God, Madam, had not given unto them the power and the 
means. Think ye that subjects having power may resist their 



princes? If their princes exceed their bounds . . . they may be 
resisted even by power,” just as an insane father may be re¬ 
strained from killing his children. If princes would murder the 
children of God, they may be bound and imprisoned. This is “no 
disobedience . . . because it agreeth with the will of God.” 

At this Mary was so taken aback that for a quarter of an hour 
she stood amazed. Then, recovering composure, she told him that 
what he was saying added up to this that her subjects should 
obey him rather than her and she would be subject to them 
rather than they to her. 

Knox answered that both subjects and princes must obey God 
who “craves of kings that they be as it were foster-fathers to 
the Church.” 

“Yea (said she), but ye are not the Kirk I will nourish. I will 
defend the Kirk of Rome, for it is, I think, the true Kirk of God.” 

Knox said “her thought did not make that Roman harlot to 
be the true and immaculate spouse of Jesus Christ.” 

“My conscience (said she) is not so.” 

“Conscience, Madam (said he), requires knowledge and I fear 
that right knowledge ye have none.” He had in mind the ety¬ 
mology of the word conscientia from con and scientia, with 
knowledge. Since Mary was not properly informed, she could 
have no conscience. She said she had read. “So (said he) did the 
Jews that crucified Christ read both the Law and the Prophets.” 
Reading is not enough. One must correctly understand. 

Here Mary caught his heel. “Ye interpret the Scriptures in 
one manner and they (the Catholics) in another. Whom shall I 

The problem became acute for Protestants when their own 
divergencies defied resolution. Knox had not yet sensed the prob¬ 
lem. ‘‘The Word of God,” said he, “is plain in the self and if 
there appears any obscurity in one place, the Holy Ghost ex¬ 
plains the same more clearly in other places.” The Mass is obvi¬ 
ously an invention of man because Jesus did not order Mass to 
be said at his Last Supper. 

“Ye are oure sair (too hard) for me (said the Queen), but if they 
were here that I have heard they would answer you.” 

“Would to God that the learnedest Papist in Europe were 


8 1 

present . . . for then ye should hear the vanity of the Papistical 
religion/’ They cannot “sustain an argument except by fire and 
sword . . . They won’t come to a conference, unless that them¬ 
selves were admitted for judges.” 

At this point the disputants adjourned for dinner, Knox 
hoping that the commonwealth of Scotland would be as blessed 
under Mary as the commonwealth of Israel under Deborah—that 
blessed exception in the First Blast. 

A second encounter had to do with Mary’s marriage. She was 
a lovely eligible widow. She was also a queen, and royal mar¬ 
riages entailed political alliances. To be perfectly free as to mar¬ 
riage a queen would have to abdicate. Knox feared that if Mary 
married again a Frenchman or a Spaniard, as Mary Tudor had 
done, Catholicism would be restored in Scotland. The husband 
of Mary of Scots must be a Protestant and preferably a Scot or 
an Englishman, for Knox desired the union of the two kingdoms. 
He gave public voice to his view. Mary called him in. 

“What have ye to do,” she demanded, “with my marriage? Or 
what are ye within this Commonwealth?” 

“A subject born within the same, Madam,” said he, “and albeit 
I be neither Earl, Lord, nor Baron within it, yet has God made 
me (how abject I be in your eyes) a profitable member within 
the same. Yet, Madam, to me it appertains no less to forewarn 
of such things as may hurt it, if I foresee them, than it does to 
any of the Nobility, for both my vocation and conscience crave 
plainness of me.” This was a proclamation of the divine right of 
the commoner against the divine right of the crown and more 
than that, it was the divine right of the prophet to instruct the 

Mary wept. Knox assured her that he could scarcely “abide 
the tears of my own boys whom my own hand corrects, much less 
can I rejoice in your Majesty’s weeping, but I must sustain (albeit 
unwillingly) your Majesty’s tears rather than I dare hurt my 
conscience or betray my Commonwealth through my silence.” 

Mary need not detain us longer. She continued, of course, to 
play the pivotal role in the plot of the Catholic extremists to 
remove Elizabeth by assassination from the throne of England 
that Mary, as her successor, might restore Catholicism. But the 



crux of Mary’s personal confrontation with Protestantism is 
already abundantly evident in the encounter with Knox. The 
rift between them epitomizes the clashing of ideologies in an 
age of dying and killing for religion. 


1. “The Scotish Correspondence of Mary of Lorraine," Publications oj 
the Scotish Historical Society, Third Ser. vol. X, (1927), p. xi. 

2. John Foxe, Acts and Monuments V (1838), pp. 624-5. 

3. Histoiy of the Reformation in Scotland, cd. William Croft Dickin¬ 
son, 2 vols. (1849), l > P* xxxxii. 

4. A Vindication of the Doctrine that the Sacrifice of the Mass Is Idol¬ 
atry (1550) Works, ed. David Laing, 6 vol. (Edinburgh, 1846-8), III, 
pp. 29-70. 

5. Works IV, p. 398, III, pp. 67-68 and Hist. II, pp. 122-3. 

6. Works IV, pp. 364-420. The passages cited are from pages in this 
order: 397, 379, 373, 393, 396, 382, 373, 368, 411, 415, 416, 418-9, 405. 

7. Hist. I, p. 116. 

8. Knox cites this document Hist. II, pp. 129-30. 

9. Robert Kingdon, Bibl.d’Hum. et Renaissance XXII (i960), pp. 

10. Christopher Goodman, How Superior Powers Ought to Be Obeyed, 
Facsimile Text Soc. (1931). 

11. A good review by William Croft Dickinson in his introduction to 
Knox’s History, pp. xl-xlii. 

12. Hist. I, p. 180. 

13. Ibid., I, p. 366. 

14. Great Britain Public Record Office, Calendar of State Papers 
Foreign, III, pp. 1560-61. Throcmorton to Elizabeth. 

15. Hist. II, p. 7. 

16. Ibid., I, pp. 367-8. 

17. For example Antonia Fraser, Maiy Queen of Scots (New York, 1969). 

18. Great Britain Public Record Office, Calendar of State Papers relat¬ 
ing to Scotland vol. I (1898), No. 1077, p. 603. 

19. Robert Keidi, History of the Affairs of Church and State in Scotland 
II (1845), PP* 268-9. Observe note I. 

20. Hist. II, p. 20. 

21. Ibid., II, p. 12 

22. Ibid., II, 13. 

23. Ibid., pp. 12-22 and 82-84. 





armory (flowed 

Knox’s tenderness in ministering to the spiritual ailments of 
women offers a striking contrast to his bluntness in the con¬ 
frontations with the Queen. The great difference, of course, is 
that the troubled souls were on the Lord’s side. Even so, one is 
v amazed to find expressions of respect for women from the pen of 
one who had stigmatized them as “frail, impatient, feeble, foolish, 
inconstant, variable, cruel and phrenetic." How could he pos¬ 
sibly go so far then as to say that they ministered to him as much 
as he to them? The anomoly attracted the attention of Robert 
Louis Stevenson who made this discerning comment: 

The sexes, irrespective of marriage, will know not love 
only, but all those other ways in which man and woman 
naturally make each other happy—by sympathy, by admira¬ 
tion, by the atmosphere they bear about them. . . . For, 
through all this gradation, the difference of sex makes itself 
pleasurably felt. Down to the most lukewarm courtesies of 
life, there is a special chivalry due and a special pleasure 
received, when the two sexes are brought ever so lightly into 
contact. We love our mothers otherwise than we love our 
fathers; a sister is not as a brother to us; and friendship be¬ 
tween man and woman, be it never so unalloyed and inno¬ 
cent, is not the same as friendship between man and man. 
Knox was capable of those intimacies with women that em- 


8 4 

Elizabeth and Marjory Bowes 

bellished his life; a man ever ready to comfort weeping 
women, and to weep along with them. . . . The ewigweibliche 
(eternal feminine) was as necessary to him as to Goethe. . . . 
He made himself necessary to troubled hearts and minds . . . 
and those whom he had thus helped became dear to him, 
and were made the constant companions of his leisure if they 
were at hand, or encouraged and comforted by letter if they 
were afar. 1 

One of the most intimate feminine friendships of Knox was 
with Elizabeth Bowes, a religious melancholic who craved spir¬ 
itual ministrations as frequently as a diabetic requires injections. 
After her death he described their relationship in these words: 2 

1 would declare unto the world what was the cause of our 
great familiarity and long acquaintance. ... I have heard 
the complaints of divers that fear God, but of the like con¬ 
flict which she sustained, from the time of our first acquaint¬ 
ance until this hour, I have not known. For her temptation 
was not in the flesh but in the spirit, for Satan did contin¬ 
ually buffet her by reason of her former idolatry and other 
iniquities: for the which I have seen her pour forth tears 
oft’er than ever I heard man or woman in my life. Her com¬ 
pany to me was comfortable but it was not without some 
cross, for my mind was seldom quiet for doing something for 
her troubled conscience. 

Knox assured her that ministering to her distress was no 
burden. 3 “Think not, Sister, that I esteem it any trouble to 
comfort you. No other labor, save only blowing my Master’s 
trumpet shall impede me to do the uttermost in my power.” He 
laments that they cannot “remane togidder for mutuall comfort.’ 
If she needs him, he also needs her, because he sees in her anxie¬ 
ties “the verie mirrour and glass wharin I behold myself. ' 
“Though I am forced to thunder out the threatenings of God 
against obstinate rebels, yet I am worse than my pen can express. 
I am no adulterer but the heart is infected with foul lusts. I am 
no idolator but the heart loveth the self. I am no man killer, but 
I help not my needy brother.” The subtle serpent had poured 

Elizabeth and Marjory Bowes 85 

into him the venom of pride by reason of the flattery of his 
preaching. Elizabeth Bowes had brought him solace. “Your letters 
were onto my heart some comfort, for I find a congruance be¬ 
tween us in spirit, being so far distant in body." “Your infirmity 
has been unto me occasion to search the Scripture more ne’er 
than ever I could do in my own cause." 

Yet for all the comfort the relationship was not easy. She was 
the wife of Sir Robert Bowes to whom she had borne fifteen chil¬ 
dren. He was not of her religious persuasion and was very upset 
when their daughter Marjory was married to John Knox. 4 Some 
have suspected Mrs. Bowes of engineering the match in order 
without scandal to have greater access to the son-in-law. But 
there is no indication that either Knox or Marjory was con¬ 
strained. He was attracted to the daughter and she was attractive. 
Calvin called her suavissima “highly engaging" and after her 
death consoled Knox that her like was not readily to be found. 5 
He testified to his affection when he told the mother there was 
none with whom he would rather speak than with “the one 
whom God had offered him and commanded him to love as his 
own flesh." Still the only extant letter to Marjory is not a per¬ 
fumed note. It had to do with how best to handle her mother’s 
“troubled conscience" and concluded, “I think this be the first 
letter that I ever wrote you." 0 

Knox first met the mother and daughter while in England. 7 
With the commencement of Mary Tudor’s persecution he fled 
unmarried to the continent. Then came back, married and took 
bride and mother with him to Geneva. On the accession of Eliza¬ 
beth, the Knoxes removed to Scotland. Elizabeth Bowes did not 
join her irate husband, but planted herself on the wedded couple. 
No doubt she would be useful caring for the two little boys 
Marjory had borne in Geneva and Marjory could take more time 
to serve as Knox’s amanuensis, a task at which she was often so 
tired she could not remember what she had written the day 
before. Living with a hypochondriac mother, who monopolized 
her husband’s attention, must have been a cross. After his wife's 
death Knox married Margaret Stuart, of royal blood, she seven¬ 
teen, he around fifty. She presented him with three daughters. 
When this was reported to King James, he exclaimed, “God be 


Elizabeth and Marjory Bowes 

thanked, for an they had been three lads, I had never bruiked 
my three kingdoms in peace.” 

But to return to the correspondence with Mrs. Bowes. 8 Her 
spiritual troubles were twofold: that her sins in the past were too 
heinous to be forgiven and that she might sin again in the fu¬ 
ture. She wrote to Knox, ‘‘Alas, wretched woman that I am, for 
the self-same sins that reigned in Sodom and Gomorrah reign 
in me.” * 

‘‘Oh, come now,” replied Knox in effect, ‘‘the sins of those 
cities were violence against strangers and unnatural filthiness. Of 
which of these are you guilty? Do you think that every stirring 
and motion of the flesh, the very ardent and burning lust, is the 
sin of Sodom? God forbid that you should think so.” 

Then she was fearful that with the restoration of Catholicism 
in England she might be guilty of ‘‘abominable and blasphemous 
idolatry” by doing reverence to the Host. Knox replied, ‘‘I am 
sure that your heart neither thirsts nor desires to invoke or make 
prayer to bread. Alas Sister, your imbecility troubles me that I 
should know you so weak that you should be moved for so small 
a matter. But your weakness is not reckoned, but by Jesus our 
Lord is excused, ‘For he breaks not down the bruised reed, nor 
yet quencheth forth the smoking flax,’ which words are to us 
most comfortable.” 

Knox consoled her that her experience was not unique. ‘‘There 
is no temptation that has yet apprehended you which does not 
commonly assault the elect of God. The soul of the very elect is 
always flowing and troubled with some fear. Some time God does 
turn away his face apparently even from his elect and then are 
they in anguish and care. Jesus himself was tempted to idolatry. 
Satan, this roaring lion, when repulsed, departed only for a time.” 

Suffering in the spirit is profitable. God allows his children to be 
tried as by fire and hides his face from them that ‘‘his presence 
after may be delectable. Further, Sister, such as tastes the cup of 
desperation without any motion or thirst of grace never tastes 
any sw r eetness of God’s promises. I know that your cup to be 
most bitter, but profitable. These dolors and infirmities be most 
profitable for us, for by the same is our pride beaten down.” The 
angel touched the marrow of Jacob’s thigh, whereby he became 

Elizabeth arid Marjory Bowes 


“crooked and unable to wrestle.” Only after that did the angel 
give his blessing. Whereby we see “it is necessary that our thighs 
be touched and we made crooked, that is, that all help and com¬ 
fort of the flesh be taken from us, that we may learn to depend 
on the promises of our most faithful God.” 

“Your very distress shows that you are in God’s favor . . . Your 
sorrow for guilt proves the knowledge of God’s goodness ... If 
you hate Jesus you would not be seeking my company . . . The 
sheep are those who crave the shepherd’s voice. Your lament over 
the temptation to idolatry shows that you hate it. Be not trou¬ 
bled that only a few are chosen. You are of the small ‘contemnit’ 
Hock to whom the Father gives his kingdom.” 

“Despair not of God’s mercy. The Scripture in sundry places 
attributes to God mutable passions that are not in God, as that 
he repented of having made Saul king, or that he plagues the 
world in his anger, and yet no such thing can be in the Godhead. 
Then would ye inquire, ‘How shall we be assured of God’s favor 
which changeth not?’ ‘By his word.' Truly neither thought nor 
deed shall be imputed onto you, for they are remitted in Christ’s 
blood. Did not God proclaim his own name in the ears of Moses, 
saying, ‘I the Lord, merciful, benign, forgiving sin, transgression 
and iniquity’? I do confess my right ear, my right thumb, my 
right toe must be sprinkled with the blood of the Lamb.” 

“Jesus Christ is all sufficient for us . . . Therefore abide pa¬ 
tiently the Lord’s deliverance to the end, remembering that our 
Head is entered into his kingdom by troubles and dolors without 
number. Most lamentably he complained in these words, ‘My 
God! my God! why hast thou forsaken me?’ He did not only 
suffer poverty, hunger, blasphemy and death, but also he did 
taste the cup of God’s wrath against sin, not only to make full 
satisfaction for his chosen people, but also that he might learn 
to be pitiful to such as are tempted.” 

“For you, Sister, I only lament your corporal trouble, which 
albeit it be painful yet is it transitory and shortly shall have an 
end, the dolor thereof recompensed above all that man’s heart 
can ask or devise. For the afflictions of this life are not worthy of 
that glory which shall be shown forth in us, whom God our 
Father hath appointed to be like the image of his only Son, Jesus 


Elizabeth and Marjory Bowes 

Christ. . . . Seeing then that we have a Bishop that by experience 
has learned in himself to have compassion upon our dolors and 
infirmities, we ought with good reason to quiet ourselves, un¬ 
doubtedly knowing that he who has vanquished in himself has 
vanquished for us . . . And so, if flesh would suffer greatly ought 
we to rejoice that it hath pleased the goodness of our God to 
print in our hearts the seal of his mercy." 


y i. Robert Louis Stevenson, “John Knox and his Relations with Wom¬ 
en,” Familiar Studies in Men and Books (London, 1924), pp. 224-5. 

2. Works VI, p. 514. 

3. The letters are in Works III, pp. 331-402; IV, pp. 217-8; VI, pp. 
515-20. The quotations following arc from III, 368, 337-9, 387, 338-9, 

4. History I, p. lxxxiii, note 4. 

5. Calvini Opera XVIII, No. 3340, p. 365; No. 3377, p. 435, No. 3378. 

6. On Knox’s affection for Marjory, Works III, pp. 369, 379. His letter 
to her Ibid. p. 370 The father’s displeasure p. 376. 

(7. Biographical details in D. P. Thomson, Wornen of the Scotish Refor¬ 
mation (i960), including the ejaculation of King James on p. 19. 

8. The following quotations are from Works III, pp. 344, 361, 367 346, 
356, 368, 339, 349, 381, 340, 399, 373, 349, 390, 371, 351, 363, 365, 
381, 39»> 377- 359- 

Anne Locke, in the judgment of Robert Louis Stevenson, was 
the woman Knox loved most. Who can tell? Certainly in his rela¬ 
tionship with her there was no touch of the cross, no need to 
solace incessant bemoanings. To Anne Locke he could write that 
he needed a horse. Anne was the daughter of a merchant adven¬ 
turer, who did his best to save William Tyndale. She was married 
to Henry Locke, another merchant of cultivated tastes and Prot¬ 
estant leanings, without that passionate commitment which he 
respected but did not share with his wife. Knox met Anne in 
London on his way to Geneva. When the persecution under 
Mary Tudor became acute he besought Mrs. Locke to leave her ^ 
husband and join him in Geneva. A personal interest was avowed. 

“Ye writ that your desyre is ernist to sie me, Deir Sister, yf I 
shuld expres the thirst and langoure whilk I haif for your pres¬ 
ence, I would appear to pass measure.” Let her take refuge in 
Geneva that “maist perfyt schoole of Chryst that ever was in the 
erth since the dayis of the Apostillis.” 

Henry Locke was not at all happy over her departure with two 
of the children, but her leaving did not disrupt the marriage. 
Quite possibly she had to leave England because of her out¬ 
spoken Protestantism, whereas he, by reason of lukewarmness, 
might remain. On the accession of Elizabeth, Anne returned and 
joined him. A copy in the British Museum of her work written 
in Geneva bears the inscription Liber Henrici Lock ex dono 
Annae uxor is suae 1559. 




VI Ny 4 VP 0 N Tift? SONGE 

that Ez/ecbias made of* 

| ter be had beneficfo 0 and 

affliEltd by the hand of 
God y 

tonieynedin the $ SjChapi* 

UrofEfajy- '* 

SfTranflssesl out of Frenche 
into Englifhc* 




Chrijlian Prince//},the Lady 
Katharine, Duchejfe 





' i 


Concernyng my tranflation of this boke, it 
W4y pie afeyou to Tenderjl and that I haue r?- 
dred it fo nere as Ipofibly might, to the 'very 
ivordes of his text,and that in fo blaine Eng* 
lijhe as I could expre/fe: Sucne as it is, 

I befccheyour grace to take it 
good parte. 

Your graces humble 
A. L* 

Portions of the Title Page, Dedication and Conclusion of Anne Locke's 
Translation of Calvin 

Anne Locke 


Knox’s departure from Geneva was prior to hers, and on the 
way to Scotland he wrote her from Dieppe, “As touching remem¬ 
brance of yow, it cannot be, I say, the corporal absence of one 
year or two that can quenche in my hart that familiar acquaint¬ 
ance in Christ Jesus, which half a yeare did engender, and almost 
two yeares did nourish and confirm.” When he was back in Scot¬ 
land and she in London, his letters supply many details about 
the progress of the Reformation beyond the border. 

After the death of Henry Locke in 1571, she was married to 
Edward Dering, such an able and daring Puritan that he was in 
trouble with Archbishop Parker and Bishop Sandys by whom he 
was silenced. Dering died a consumptive in 1576 at the age of 
thirty-six. Anne’s third husband was Richard Prowse, a merchant 
and a firm Protestant. Of Anne’s published works the first bears 
the initials A. L., the second A. P., for her first and third hus¬ 

These writings of hers are of especial interest in a work on the / 
role of women, much more so than Knox’s letters to her from 
Edinburgh all about the blowing of the trumpets of Joshua, 
though these do disclose his need for her spiritual support. In a 
dire moment he confessed himself “in verie deid in need of her 
comfort.” Would that we had her reply! But we do have two of 
her translations from the French with prefaces of her own com¬ 

The first was a rendering of a sermon of John Calvin on King 
Hezekiah’s song of thanksgiving after recovery from an illness. 
The dedication is to the “Right Honorable, and Christian Prin- 
cesse, the Lady Katherine, Duchesse of Suffolke.” Anne begins 
with the observation that many persons suffering great soreness 
of body do show forth great “constancie” of spirit, whereas many 
who have health and wealth in “suffisance” are assailed in 
“soule,” whereby we see that physicians are needed for more than 
the body. “He that cureth the sicke minde . . . cureth or pre- 
serveth not onely minde but bodye also.” For spiritual ailments 
God, the heavenly physician, has given a “receipe” which “the 
most excellent Apothecaire master John Calvin hath com¬ 
pounded, and I your Grace’s most bounden and humble have 


Anne Locke 

put into an English [pill] box, and do present unto you. My 
thankes are taken away and drowned by the greate excesse of 
duetie that I owe you. Such remedye as here is contained can no 
Philosopher, no Infidele, no Papist minister. For what perlite 
helpe can they geve to a dyseased mynde, that vnderstande not, 
or beleue not the onely thyng that must of nedefull necessitie be 
put into all medicines that maye serue for a tormented soule, 
that is to say, the determined prouidence of almyghtie God, 
whiche ordreth and disposeth all thynges to the best to them 
that truste in him?" 

1 o one who ‘‘seeth no signe of Gods grace in his soule, but 
the depe woundes that Gods anger hath left in his conscience, 
perceiueth no tokeen to argue him th’ elect of God. . . . what 
helpe remaineth in this extremititie? If we thinke the helpe of 
the Papistes, to begge and borrowe others Virgins oyle that have 
none to spare, to bye the superfluous workes of those men that 
say they haue done more than suffiseth to satisfie Gods lawe and 
to deserue theyr owne saluation. ... If (I say) we thinks these 
good 8c sufficient medicines: we but promise health, & performe 
death.” . . . But the Christian ‘‘beyng strong with the stinge of 
the scorpion knoweth howe with oyle of the same scorpion to be 
healed agayne: beying wounded with the iustice of God that 
hateth sinne, he knoweth howe with the mercy of the same God 
that pardoneth sinne to haue hys peine asswaged and hurt 

‘‘So here this good soules Physician hath brought you where 
you maye se lyinge before youre face the good king Ezechias, 
somtime chillinge and chattering with colde, somtime languish¬ 
ing 8c meltyng away with heate, nowe fresing, now frying, nowe 
spechelesse, now crying out, with other suche piteous panges 8c 
passions wrought in his tender afflicted spirit, by giltie conscience 
of his owne fault, by terrible consideration of Gods iustice, by 
cruell assaultes of the tyrannous enemie of many saluation, 
vexynge hym in much more lamentable wise than any bodyly 
feuer can worke, or bodyly fieshe can suffer. On th' other side for 
his helpe, you se him sometyme throwe vp his gastly eyen [ghostly 
eyes], starynge wyth horrour, and scant discemynge for peine and 
for want of the lyuely moisture to fede the brightnes of theyr 

Anne Locke 


sight. You se him sometyme yelclyngly stretch oute, sometyme 
struglinglye throwe his weakned legges not able to sustein his 
feble body: sometime he casteth abrode, or holdeth vp his white 
Sc blodles hand toward the place whether his soule longeth: some¬ 
tyme with fallyng chappes, he breatheth out vnperfect soundes, 
gasping rather than calling for mercy Sc helpe. These thinges 
being here laid open to sight. ... if we feele oure selues in like 
anguisshe we finde that the disease is the same that Ezechias had, 
and so by conuenience of reason must by the same meane be 

Her second translation was entitled The Markes of the Chil¬ 
dren of God from the French of J. Taffin, a pastor in the Nether¬ 
lands whose encouragements to his flock she thought would be 
helpful to sufferers in England in 1590 when Whitgift was en¬ 
deavoring to suppress the Puritan movement. The tract was dedi¬ 
cated to a fellow woman reformer, the ‘‘Right Honorable and 
vertuous Laide, the Countesse of Warwicke.” The preface is of 
interest in part for the side glimpse of the feeling of a woman 
as to the restrictions on her sex. She wrote, “But because great 
things by reason of my sexe, 1 may not doe, and that which I 
may, 1 ought to doe, I haue according to my duetie, brought my 
poore basket of stones to the strengthening of the wals of that 
Ierusalem, whereof (by Grace) we are all both Citizens and 

Her little basket was a Puritan paean of optimism on the glory 
about to be revealed. 

“For what are all the pleasant things of this world, which most 
bewitch the mindes of men, if they be compared with heauenly 
and eternall things? If stately Sc sumptuous buildings do delight; 
what building is so statelie and glorious as new Ierusalem? If 
riches, what so rich as that, whose pauement is of pure Gold, 
whose foundations and wals of precious stones, Sc gates of orient 
pearls? If Friends, Kinsfolke and neighbours? what Cittie so 
replenished as this, where God himselfe in his Maiestie, Iesus 
Christ the head of the Church in his Glory, & all the holy Angels, 
Patriarkes, Prophets, Apostles Sc Martirs do dwell together in 
happinesse for euer? If honour? what honour comparable to this, 


Anne Locke 

to be the seruant and child of so mightie a King, and Heire of 
so glorious a Kingdome; where neyther time dooth consume, nor 
enuie depriue of honour, nor power of Aduersary spoyle of 
Glory, that is endles & incomprehensible? If then there bee no 
comparison betweene things Heauenly, and things that are 
Earthlie, and no man can attaine to the things that are Heauenly, 
but by the same way that Christ himselfe attained vnto them, 
which was by the Crosse: why (casting off all impediments that 
presseth downe) doe wee not runne on our course with cheerful- 
nesse and Hope, hauing Christ so mighty a King, for our Cap- 
taine & Guide, who (as the Apostle saith) for the Glory that was 
set before him, endured the Crosse, and despising the shame, 
sitteth now at the right hand of the Throne of God?" 


The letters of Knox to Anne Locke are in works VI, pp. 11-15; 20-27, 
77-79, 103-104, 107-108 and IV, pp. 237-41. In the same volume there 
are his letters to the sisters in Edinburgh. They add but little. Her trans¬ 
lation of Sermons: John Calvin upon the Songe that Ezechias made , 
1560 is signed A. L. for Anne Locke. In the Short Title Catalog no. 

The translation of John Taffin, The Markes of the Children of God 
(1609) is signed A. P., because her third husband was Richard Prowse. 
This is Short Title Catalog no. 23652. 

Her second husband was Edward Dering whom we shall shortly meet 
in another sketch. Henry Locke died in 1571, Dering in 1576. 

There is an admirable treatment of Anne Locke by Patrick Collinson, 
“The Role of Women in the English Reformation illustrated by the 
i/Life and Friendships of Anne Locke,” Studies in Church History , II 

(igegk ____— 



Volume Two in this series included sketches of women in Eng¬ 
land. I had not intended to add any more until I came across 
several of especial interest. Katherine Stubbes is the first woman ^ 
I have found with a genuine interest in theology in the more 
technical sense, though we can't be quite sure whether the inter¬ 
est was hers or her husband's. We have the account only from his 
pen. He was a Puritan pamphleteer in the years 1581-93. In 1586 
he was married to Katherine Emmes, then only fifteen. His age 
we do not know. When just over twenty, she gave birth to a 
“manchild" and within a fortnight could “go abroade in the 
house." A “quotidian ague" then struck her in which “she lan¬ 
guished for the space of sixe weekes or thereabouts" until the end. 

The following year her husband published an account of her 
life and faith. He craved to be believed that she was a “mirroure 
of womanhood, the rarest Paragon in the world, gentle and cour¬ 
teous of nature, she was never heard to give any the lie, nor to 
thou any in anger. [Thou in that day was like du in German, tu 
in French, insulting to superiors.] She was never known to fall 
out with any of her neighbours, nor with the least child that lived; 
much less to scold or brawl. She was marked above all for the 
fervent zeal with which she confounded Papists or Atheists to 
whom she would not yeeld a iot and would most mightily iustifie 
the truth of God against their blasphemous untruths." 

“She obeyed the commandment of the Apostle, who biddeth 1 , 
women to be silent and to learn of their husbands at home. 


Katherine Stubbes 

9 6 

A C H RI S 7 T A L L 

Glafsc for Chriftian 

Con taming a mofl excellent DiTG0furfe, 4 

ofrhc Godly Life' and Chriftian death of Miftrcfte 
< Katiuuinf. Sty d bks , who departed this 
Life in Burton vpon Trent in S taftord- 
lliire, the 14. of December. 

With amoft heauenly Confefsicn of the Chri- 

Ilian Faith, which Shcemadca little before her departure, 

asalfp a moil wondcrtull combatc betwixt Satan and her 
icule: worthy to be Imp tinted in letters 
oi Geld, and ro be ingpuen in 
the I able of cucry Chrt- 
ftian heart. 

Set dovvnc word for word as SJwc/pftkc,-as necre 
as could be gathered: By Briiiip- 
-p ' Stvbbes Gent., -?■ . / . , 

; try- ■ C'S"- *■> h '• 

1 Revel, r^.verfe 1 j. .-1 *' 

b'lejftd are the dead that die in the Lerd , euett fo faith the Spirit , for 
shefrefi from their labours, and thetr worker follosvtbem. 

+ Printed for Edward WHiTE 3 andaretobe£pldathn 

Shoppe nccrc the little North doorcof S. Pauls Church 
at the Signe of the Gunne. 

I d o 8. 


Katherine Stubbes 


When she was not reading, she would spend the time in con¬ 
ferring, talking and reasoning with her husband of the word of 
God, and of Religion: asking him, what is the sense of this 
place? And what is the sense of that? How expound you this 
place? (Note that she does not use the less respectful thou to her 
husband.) So she seemed to be, as it were, ravished with the same 
spirit that David was when he said, ‘The zeale of thine house 
hath eaten me up.' ” 

She had had well in advance a premonition of death, and now 
to the friends gathered about her bed she said, “For that my 
houre-glasse is runne out, and that the time for my departure 
hence is at hand, I am persuaded to make a profession of my 
faith before you all." Her husband declared on the title page of 
t/ his Christall Glasse for Christian Women that he had “Set downe 
word for word as Shee spake, as neere as could be gathered." One 
marvels if it be true that a woman dying of quartan fever could 
dictate so concise, so complete and so orderly a compendium of 
the reformed faith. She treats of the main articles of the Protes¬ 
tant creeds: God, the Trinity, Christ, the forgiveness of sins and 
the life to come; salvation by faith alone and predestination, 
with the usual defence of the righteousness of God in damning 
some and saving others seeing that all deserve damnation. Some 
receive it to illustrate his justice. Some are saved to illustrate his 
mercy. There is nothing novel in her confession, save perchance 
the tone of fervent piety. 

Take for example her statement about God. 

I will define him unto you as the spirit of God shall illumi¬ 
nate my heart. I believe therefore with my hearte, and freely 
confesse with my mouth heere before you all, that this God 
in whom I beleeve, is a most glorious spirit, or spirituall 
substance, a divine essence or essential beinge, without be¬ 
ginning or ending; of infinite glory, power, might and majes- 
tie: invisible, inaccessible, incomprehensible, and altogether 
unspeakable. I beleeve and confesse, that this glorious God¬ 
head, this blessed substance, essence or being; that this divine 
power, which we call God, is divided into a Trinity of per¬ 
sons, the Father, the Sonne and the holy Spirit. 


Katherine Stubbes 

That, being a woman, she should be a theologian is worthy 
of mark. Her theology is impressive chiefly by majesty of diction 
and fervor of spirit. More impressive is her welcoming of death 
that she might penetrate the veil of inaccessibility and behold the 
light of God’s countenance. 

And so desirous was she to bee with the Lord, that these 
golden sentences were never out of her mouth: 

“I desire to be dissolved and to be with Christ”; 

“O miserable wretch that I am, who shall deliver me from 
this bodie subject to sinne?” 

“Come, quickly Lord Jesus, come quickly”; 

“Like as the hart desireth the water springs, so doth my 
soul thirst after thee, O God.” 

“I would rather be a dore keeper in the house of my God, 
then to dwell in the tents of the wicked,” with many other 
heavenly sentences, which least (lest) I should seeme tedious, 
I willingly omit. She would alwaies pray in her sickness abso¬ 
lutely that God would take her out of this miserable world. 
And when her husband and others, would desire her to pray 
for health, if it were the will of God, she would answere, 
“I beseech you pray not that I should live, for I think it long 
to be with my God. Christ is to me life, and death is to me 
advantage. Yea, the day of death is the day of everlasting 
life, and I cannot enter into life but by death. Therefore is 
death the doore or entrance into everlasting life to me, O my 
God, why not now? why not now? why not now? O my good 
God, I am ready for thee. I am prepared. O receive me now 
for thy Christ’s sake. O send thy messenger of death to fetch 
me. Send thy Sergeant to arrest me, thy Pursevant to attach 
me, thy Herauld to summon me. O send thy Jailer to deliver 
my soule out of prison. 

How like is all of this to the desire of Teresa as a child to flee 
to the Moors that she might be killed and enjoy at once the 
vision of God! Teresa pitied the poor Protestants consigned to 
perdition. Katherine the poor Papists with their blasphemous 
untruths. And yet both were consumed with the love of God. 

Katherine Stubbes 



The only biographical material is that given by the husband, Philip 
Stubbes, in The Christall Glasse for Christian Women (London, 1608). 
Short Title Catalog no. 176000. He is in the Dictionary of National 

J ~Jlie 5 our ^J^aucfliterS 

op -Anthony. CooL 

Four of the daughters of Anthony Cooke are of great interest 
because, in high station and learned in all of the skills of the 
Renaissance woman, they were not only committed to Anglican 
Protestantism, but strongly inclined toward Puritanism. The first 
was Anne, Lady Bacon, the mother of Francis Bacon; the second 
Mildred, Lady Burleigh, the wife of William Cecil, chief adviser 
to the queen for all of twoscore years. The third, Elizabeth, was 
first Lady Hoby, then Lady Russell, wife of John Russell, son of 
the Duke of Bedford. The fourth, Katherine, became Lady Killi- 
grew. Her husband was a diplomat often abroad. While at 
Antwerp he supported the English Presbyterian congregation. 1 

Katherine, o Uu JCS 


Let us move from the least to the better documented. Kath¬ 
erine, Lady Killigrew, was as highly lauded for her learning as 
were her sisters. After her death an admirer wrote, “Such was her 
mind, such excellence she bore, I once admired her, and I now 
deplore." Another wrote: “All Greece and Rome did in her num¬ 
bers shine. 


Daughters of Anthony Cooke 


The sacred language too she made her own. 

Nor eastern learning was to her unknown.” 

But of her literary output only a few Latin poems remain and in 
English three stanzas, a playful plea to her sister, Lady Burleigh, 
to employ her good offices to keep some gentleman from going 

If, Mildred, to my wishes kind 
Thy valued charge thou send, 

In thee my soul shall own combined 
The sister and the friend. 

If from my eyes by thee detained 
The wanderer cross the seas. 

No more thy love shall sooth, as friend, 

No more as sister please. 

His stay let Cornwall’s shore engage; 

And peace with Mildred dwell; 

Else war with Cecil’s name I wage 
Perpetual war.—farewell. 2 

Engaging banter but nothing as to religion. Her stance can be 
inferred from the letters of Edward Dering, the second husband 
of Anne Locke. 3 He was a highly distinguished scholar and a 
powerful preacher, so esteemed by his superiors as to be invited 
in 1572 to preach before Queen Elizabeth. At the end of an edi¬ 
fying discourse he plunged into a tirade against the clergy, defiled 
by trafficking in benefices. “Look at your ministers,” said he to 
the queen, “ruffians, hawkers, hunters, dicers, blind guides and 
dumb dogs,” some one and some another. This need not have 
ruffled Elizabeth. She was not overpowered by esteem for the 
clergy. He went on: 

And yet you, in the meanwhile that all these whoredoms 
are committed, you at whose hands God will require it, you 
sit still and are careless. Let men do as they list. It toucheth 
not belike your commonwealth, and therefore you are so 
well contented to let all alone. The Lord increase the gifts 
of his Holy Spirit in you, that from faith to faith you may 

102 Daughters of Anthony Cooke 

grow continually, till that you be zealous as good King David 
to work his will. . . . Your Majesty must strengthen your 
laws. . . . To keep back the ignorant from the ministry . . . 
take away your authority from the bishops . . . Pull down 
the court [of the archbishop], the mother and nurse of all 
abominations. . . . Amend these horrible abuses. . . . God is 
a righteous God, he will one day call you to your reckoning. 
The God of all glory open your eyes to see his kingdom, and 
enflame your heart to desire it. 4 

If the Queen could have brooked the personal rebuke she 
might have been pleased with the substance of his recommenda¬ 
tion, for what did it add up to if not the exaltation of the royal 
supremacy? But exactly what did Dering have in mind? If the 
bishops were to be shorn of authority, who would appoint the 
ministers? The people? That would be Congregationalism. As¬ 
sociations of ministers? That would be Presbyterianism. The 
crown? That would be extreme Caesaropapism and what a task 
for the government! Would the justices of the peace make the 
appointments? Dering was inhibited from preaching, reinstated 
and called before the court which he had dubbed, “the mother 
and nurse of abominations.” 

He was examined on four counts: 

1) Did he agree that the articles are in accord with the Word 
of God? He replied that the Word of God had nothing about 
the consecration of bishops. 

2) Did he agree that the queen was the supreme governor in 
matters ecclesiastical as well as civil? Yes. 

3) Did he agree that there is nothing in the Prayer Book repug¬ 
nant to the Word of God? Well, not exactly. The Word of God 
does not call ministers priests. 

4) Did he agree that the preaching of the Word in this Church 
of England is sound and sincere? He couldn’t say. He hadn’t 
heard all the sermons. And the sacraments: is the ministration 
consonant with the Word of God? Not exactly. The Word does 
not say that women may baptize, that the sign of the cross is to 
be used in baptism or the wafer in the Eucharist. In addition he 

Daughters of Anthony Cooke 103 

was asked his opinion of the Homilies to be read by the clergy. 
He pointed out that they did not agree with the Book of Com¬ 
mon Prayer, for they proscribe “pyping, singing, chaunting, play¬ 
ing open organs/' which, they say, “displease God and defile his 
holy Temple." 5 

Nevertheless, said Dering, he had conformed out of deference 
to the will of the sovereign. He had worn the surplice and the 
cap, which he would not have done if given his liberty. He had 
used the Book of Common Prayer and had not absented himself 
from communion. His was a conformity of compliance along 
with sympathy for non-conformists. He was again inhibited, again 
restored. He grew more radical and would admit the royal 
supremacy only if the ruler were Christian. He might have ended 
his days in the Tower, but at the age of thirty-six he was carried 
off by tuberculosis. 

This then was the man who wrote to Katherine Killigrew. His 
correspondence shows that he had been intimately in touch with 
her for a long time. Here are a few excerpts from the several 
letters 6 written before he was her husband. 

It greeueth me good Mistris K. that you should be so long 
at Hendon as now you haue beene, and all this while I could 
finde no leisure to come vnto you, and whatsoeuer my fault 
hath beene heerein, I will make no other excuse, but desire 
you to forgiue it. And I pray God though I see you not, yet 
I may so remember you, as I am bound, and so my not 
cumming vnto you shall greeue me the lesse. Now touching 
your owne case, I know you are wise to see, that the Lord 
giueth you new instructions to bee wise in him, and to giue 
ouer your selfe vnto him. For as God hath blessed you many 
waies, and giuen you a good calling in the world, so he vis- 
iteth you every day, and humbleth you with many chastise¬ 
ments before him. God hath giuen you husband, children, 
family, and other blessings, but you enjoy none of them 
without a crosse, sometime in one thing, sometime in an¬ 
other, and commonly your owne weake and sickly body 
makes you that you cannot haue your ioy as you would. 

104 Daughters of Anthony Cooke 

The cross we learn was an unkind husband and a wayward 
son. Dering writes: 

Your sonne hath grieved you much, yea, but you haue not 
the hundreth part of the griefe that Dauid might haue had 
for his sonne Absolon: and will you be more grieued than 
he? Your sonne I trust shall yet proue well, and you shall 
see his recovery. . . . This griefe God recompenceth with 
great benefit, for our Sauiour Christ is our good warrant, 
that this is the lot of God's Saints, to enioy his blessings with 
afflictions, so that the more that you be sorrowfull, the more 
you be sure that the liuing God hath given you your portion: 
and so your sorrow is ioy vnto you. . . . The Lord bless you 
with his holy spirit, that you may in the midst of other care, 
haue pleasure in this, and in other sorrow reioyce in the 
Lord, and alwaies reioyce. Commend me I pray you, to your 
little ones, Nan, Besse 8c Mary. And the Lord make you and 
maister K. gladde parents of good children. Amen. 

In the above excerpts he has addressed himself to her distresses. 
In another he is mindful of her help to him in his. 

I thanke you good Mistris K. for your Letter, and for your 
medicine, and for your good will to him to whom you before 
did owe so little. Touching my disease, I did suddainly cough 
8c spit much blood, so that when with much forcing my selfe, 
I refrained, it ratteled in my throat, as if I had bin a dying: 
next day in the like sort I did, 8c once since the taking of 
these medicines for the staying of it. It is now staied, but I 
feele a great stopping of my wind, and much prouocation to 
cough, which if I did, I should spit blood as before. I pray 
you aske your Physition what hee thinketh best to be done. 
And good Mistris K. against all diseases and sicknesses of the 
bodie, doe as you do, and daily encrease it, with an vnfained 
testimony of your own hart. Commit your health, your sick- 
nes, your body, your soule, your life, and your death, to the 
protection of him that died for vs, 8: is risen againe. A sicke 
body with such an aide, hath greater treasure then the 
Queenes Iewel house. Pray still, and pray for mee. I see the 

Daughters of Anthony Cooke 105 

goodnes of God such towardes mee, as (I thanke God) except 
sinne, I weigh not all the world a feather: and with as glad 
a minde I spitte blood, (I trust) as cleare spittle. To those 
that love God, all things are for the best: he hath a hard 
hart that beleeueth not this. . . . Commend mee to Maister K. 
your little ones, to Maister R. The Lord blesse vs all, that 
we make our bodies shake, and not our bodies vs. Vale in 
Christo Iesu. 25. Iul. 1575. 

Tuus in Christo , Ed. Dering. 

Thus through a man there is disclosed to us a woman. 

£(izabeth> jirst oCcichj. then jCcidy l&uASeil 

Elizabeth, like her sister, is known to us through the men of 
her family, though in her case not wholly. Her first husband, 
during the persecution of Mary Tudor, spent much of his time 
on the continent. 7 To this couple two sons were born. The first, 
Edward, was under James I a scathing satirist of Roman claims. 8 
The second, called Thomas Posthumous Hoby, because born 
after his father’s death, pleased his mother by allowing no 
dancing at his wedding. 0 

But there is more direct evidence as to her position. After she 
had become Lady Russell we find this entry in the papers of 
Queen Elizabeth: 

Petition of Elizabeth, Dowager Lady Russell, Lord Huns- 
don, and 29 other inhabitants of Blackfriars, London, to the 
Council. One Burbage has lately bought rooms near Lord 
Hunsdon’s, and is converting them into a common play¬ 
house, which will be a great annoyance to the neighbour¬ 
hood, because of the gathering of vagrant and lewd persons, 
on pretence of coming to the plays; because of its making 

Daughters of Anthony Cooke 107 

the place too populous, in case of a return of the sickness; 
and because the playhouse being near the church, the drums 
and trumpets will disturb divine service. There has not be¬ 
fore been any playhouse in the precincts, but now that the 
Lord Mayor has banished the players from the city, they 
plant themselves in the liberties. Request that no playhouse 
may be kept there. 10 

More directly Lady Russell placed herself, perhaps unwittingly, 
in the stream of continental radical Protestantism by the transla¬ 
tion of a tract which she entitled: A Way of Reconciliation of a 
good and learned man, Touching the Trueth, Nature and sub¬ 
stance of the Body and Blood of Christ in the Sacrament. Trans¬ 
lated out of Latin into English by the Right Honorable Lady 
Elizabeth Russell Dowager to the Right Honorable the Lord 
John Russell, Baron and sonne and heire to Francis Earle of 
Bedford . Printed at London by RB.Anno iSoj .* 1 The translation 
was dedicated to her daughter Nan, whom from the cradle, she 
had caused to “draw milk from the Holy Worde.” Now by under¬ 
taking this translation she hoped to compose the dissensions 
among the Protestants over the interpretation of the Lord's 
Supper. All of their differences could be resolved if they would 
but recognize the distinction between the physical and the spir¬ 
itual body of Christ. When the Lord said “This is my body," he 
had reference to the spiritual body. It is a real body and the 
Lutherans are perfectly right in saying that Christ is bodily pres¬ 
ent on the altar, but since the body is spiritual, feeding on him 
means receiving spiritual nourishment. This should satisfy the 
Zwinglians. Such was the argument. 

Now where did this tract come from and who was the author? 
Elizabeth, in her preface, says that it was written in Germany 
about fifty years ago. Since her translation came out in 1605 this 
would be 1555. The work, she said, had been translated into 
French. Her title page says that she translated a Latin version. 
The translator from German into Latin assured the reader that 
he was not of the parties of the Anabaptists or Schwenckfelders. 
The name of the author was not divulged, “seeing that he was a 
man of great modesty." There was, however, a better reason to 


Daughters of Anthony Cooke 


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Daughters of Anthony Cooke 109 

suppress his name and give the assurance that the author was 
not a Schwenckfelder. The man who issued two tracts with this 
very same argument around 1554 and again in 1557 was none 
other than Caspar Schwenckfeld. 12 With good reason his name 
was concealed because, far from reconciling the parties, he had 
incurred the enmity of both. Luther and the Lutherans called 
him not Schwenckfeld, but Stenckfeld (Stinkfield), and the Zwing- 
lians were equally caustic. Lady Russell was aligning herself with 
a group to the left of mainline Protestantism on the continent. 
Did she know it? Since she knew the date and that original was 
German, in all probability she did know that she was disseminat¬ 
ing the views of Caspar Schwenckfeld. 

One single sentence in her hand aligned her with English Prot¬ 
estantism to the left. The sentence was appended to a letter 
which she forwarded to her brother-in-law Lord Burghley. The 
author of the letter was Thomas Cartwright, 13 the man who gave 
a new turn to English Puritanism by shifting the emphasis from 
the rejection of vestments, which he was willing to wear, to the 
polity of the church of England. The norm for him was the 
pattern of the New Testament, which knew nothing of diocesan 
bishops. The word bishop then meant simply a pastor. The 
affairs of the church should be regulated by synods, that is pres¬ 
byteries. Cartwright wished to fashion the Anglican church after 
the model of that in Scotland of which James I said, “No bishop, 
no king." He would have been right if he had said, “No bishop, 
no royal supremacy,” for how could a monarch control the 
church if unable to appoint bishops who controlled the clergy? 

Deprived of his professorship at Cambridge, Cartwright went 
to the continent. While in Holland he was pastor of a Presby¬ 
terian congregation organized at Antwerp with the help of Lord 
Killigrew. In 1582 Cartwright ventured to return to England. He 
was temporarily imprisoned at the insistence of the bishop of 
London, but was soon released and allowed to preach. Difficulties 
were soon created for him, however, because the Presbyterians 
began organizing conferences. Suspicion of fathering radical 
tracts and even of being the author of the outrageously amusing 
satires of Martin Marprelate led to his examination before the 

1 io 

Daughters of Anthony Cooke 

High Commission. He was deliberately ambiguous lest he incrim¬ 
inate his brethren and refused to take the oath required. 

In consequence he languished a long time in prison, while his 
wife was left to take care of five children of whom one died. He 
suffered from gout and sciatica. In this situation he invoked the 
intercession of Lady Russell. 14 He would not praise her unduly 
for her learning which is “not hable to resist the sieth (scythe) 
of death. . . . Godliness only is that which endureth.” Neither 
would he unduly praise her for that, but “rather exhort you to 
further encrease therein . . But “I cannot passe by your singu¬ 
lar and verie rare favour towards me . . . some five years past/' 
He then recounts his grievances, that bail has not been allowed, 
though it is given to felons and recusant Papists. May she use 
her good offices with the Lord Treasurer (her brother-in-law, 
Burghley). To him she forwarded the letter with the one sentence 
which proves her to have been the patroness of English Puritans, 
“Good my Lord rede this thorow and do what you can to ye 
poore man." 

He was released the next year. 




Lady Anne Bacon, the mother of two sons, Anthony and his 
renowned brother Francis, left no shadow of uncertainty about 
the intensity of her Protestant convictions. She was thoroughly 
agitated when her son Anthony employed the services of Catho¬ 
lics as well as Protestants in the interest of the crown. He had 
one familiar in particular whom she thoroughly detested and 
demanded his dismissal. Anthony asked a friend to mediate, but 
he reported that “it is as impossible to persuade my Lady as for 
myself to send you St. Paul’s steeple.” 15 The historian of Hert¬ 
fordshire tells us that in this district she “gathered around her 
some of the most eminent of the Puritan ministers,” a number 

Daughters of Anthony Cooke m 

of whom are named. The author surmises that the collection of 
Puritan documents entitled A Parte of a Register was issued at 
her expense and that she was the “Ladyship” to whom was dedi¬ 
cated The Copie of a Letter with a Confession of Faith, com¬ 
posed by two prominent Puritans. 16 

Her stance as to religion as well as her literary skill are evident 
in two translations and a letter from her pen. The first transla¬ 
tion was entitled Certayne Sermons of the ryghte famous and 
excellente clerk Master B . Ochine and in another edition Foure - 
tene Sermons . . . concerninying the predestinacion and eleccion 
of God . . . Translated out of Italian . . . by A.C . 17 The initials 
are those of Anne Cooke. Both editions are assigned to the year 
1550. Ochino was an Italian exile, who prior to his defection 
from the Church of Rome, had been the general of the Capu¬ 
chins and as a preacher, the Savonarola of his generation. After 
his apostasy he moved from center to left of center in his Prot¬ 
estantism and in all was banished from five countries. 18 A brief 
account of his early period is given in the first volume in this 
series. The material translated by Lady Bacon was quite in line 
with the prevailing Anglicanism. 

The same was obviously true of her translation from the Latin 
of John Jewel's Apology or Answer in Defense of the Church of 
England a vindication of Canterbury against the Roman argu¬ 
ment that the Protestants must be wrong because they did not 
agree among themselves. The rebuttal was: “Good God! What 
manner of fellows be these, which blames us for disagreeing? 
And do all they themselves, wean you, agree well?” Some wear 
shoes, some sandals, some linen, some wool, some white, some 
black, some are girt, some ungirt. “They were best therefore, to 
go and set peace at home rather among their own selves. Of 
a truth unity and concord doth best become religion; yet is 
not unity the sure and certain mark whereby to know the church 
of God, for there was the greatest consent that might be amongst 
them that worshipped the golden calf.” 19 

Lady Bacon’s translation met with the unqualified approval 
of Jewel, and Archbishop Parker wrote a commendatory preface. 
He hoped that by her example “all noble gentlewomen would be 
allured from vain delights to doing of more perfect glory.” 

1 12 

Daughters of Anthony Cooke 

Thus far Lady Bacon was entirely in line with the official 
forms of the Reformation, but in a private letter her Puritan 
leanings found expression. The occasion was a communication 
in 1587 of the Commons to the “Lordes spiritual and temporal” 
that among other points the ministers should be more numer¬ 
ous, they should not be troubled for the omission of some por¬ 
tions from the Book of Common Prayer, they should not be 
called before the High Commission save for “notable offenses" 
and they should be permitted to have “exercises and confer¬ 
ences among themselves." 20 The “exercises" referred presumably 
to the “prophesyings," gatherings of both clergy and laity for 
the exposition and discussion of Scripture. The word “confer¬ 
ences" will have referred to the Presbyterian synods. The queen 
had demanded their suppression because such discussions “lead 
to divided opinions upon pointes of divinity farre unmeete for 
vulgar people." Archbishop Grindal refused to use his authority 
to forbid them, for he found them instructive for the clergy and 
edifying for the laity. The queen suspended him from his func¬ 
tions. His death saved her from the embarrassment of deposi¬ 
tion. 21 After him came the more rigorous Whitgift. The response 
to the petition by the lords spiritual was to petition the queen 
not to relax her policy of suppression. Nor did she. 

Lady Bacon then addressed her brother-in-law, Lord Burghley, 
with the plea that the “faithful ministers" be granted the oppor¬ 
tunity to present their case in person to the queen. She added 
her testimony to the benefit she had derived from the exercises. 
She wrote, “For mine own part, my good Lord, I will not deny, 
but as I may hear them in their public exercises as a chief duty 
commanded by God to widows, and also I confess as one that 
hath found mercy, that I have profited more in the inward feel¬ 
ing knowledge of God his holy will, though but in a small mea¬ 
sure, by such sincere and sound opening of the Scriptures by 
an ordinary preaching within these seven or eight years, than 
I did by hearing odd sermons at Paul’s well-nigh twenty years 
together." 22 

Burghley’s efforts were unavailing. Elizabeth had her way and 
her successors reaped the whirlwind. 

Daughters of Anthony Cooke 

11 3 

&r 9 

Mildred, Lady Burghley, was no less renowned than her sisters 
for learning, and was even preferred to them by a Latin poet, 
Ockland by name, who composed a panegyric on Queen Eliza¬ 
beth and dedicated it to Lady Burghley 

that very noble and highly erudite lady, versed alike in Latin 
and Greek, the Lady Mildred, wife of the great Lord Trea¬ 
surer Burghley. There were many learned women in Greece 
whose works, drawn from the wells of Parnassus, are extant, 
but how much more remarkable is the mastery of Greek by 
those in distant lands, who, after learning their own vernacu¬ 
lar, have by diligent labor, acquired a knowledge of both 
Greek and Latin, thus combining Homer and Virgil! Of the 
four illustrious sisters I turn to you Mildred that you may 
be my Pallas to shield me from acrimonious criticism. I know 
that my verses are not equal to the virtue of my queen. 1 
hope the reader will not view them with a jaundiced eye. My 
lines 1 entrust to your tutelage and hope you will not spurn 
your suppliant.” 23 

All of this teaches us nothing, of course, as to Mildred’s reli¬ 
gious opinions, and as a matter of fact, very little has been re¬ 
corded in detail. The Scotch Presbyterians were confident of her 
sympathy and support. There are several letters to her from 
William Maitland, Laird of Lyddington, telling her that Lord 
James and he thanked her for her “furtherance of this common 
cause,” and trusting that she will not “wexe cold.” 24 

The Spanish ambassador was in no doubt as to where she 
stood. The occasion was the proposed marriage of Elizabeth with 
the Duke of Austria, a Roman Catholic. The ambassador com¬ 
municated to his government that “Cecil seems to desire this 
business so greatly that he does not speak about the religious 
point, but this may be deceit, as his wife is of the contrary opin¬ 
ion and thinks that great trouble may be caused to the peace of 
the country through it. She has great influence with her husband, 

114 Daughters of Anthony Cooke 

and no doubt discusses the matter with him, but she appears a 
much more ferocious heretic than he is/' 25 
Conyers Read, in his magnificent study of Lord Burghley, re¬ 
marks that during the last thirty years of his marriage to Mildred 
not a single letter between them has survived. We do have his 
tribute when she was taken. I quote a portion followed by Read's 
summary. 26 

‘Therefore my cogitation ought to be occupied in these 
things following: 

‘To thank Almighty God for his favour, in permitting her 
to live so many years together with me, and to have given 
her grace to have had the true knowledge of her salvation 
by the death of her son, Jesus, opened to her by the knowl¬ 
edge of the gospel, whereof she was a professor from her 

‘I ought to comfort myself with the remembrance of her 
many virtues and godly actions wherein she continued all 
her life. And specially in that she did of late years sundry 
charitable deeds whereof she determined to have no outward 
knowledge while she lived. In so much as when I had some 
little understanding thereof, and asked her wherein she had 
disposed any charitable gifts (according to her often wishing 
that she were able to do some special act for maintenance of 
learning and relief of the poor), she would always only show 
herself rather desirous so to do than ever confess any such 
act. As since her death is manifestly known to me and con¬ 
fessed by sundry good men (whose names and ministries she 
secretly used) that she did charge them most strictly that 
while she lived they should never declare the same to me 
nor to any other. 

‘And so now have I seen her earnest writings to that pur¬ 
pose of her own hand. The particulars of many of these here¬ 
after do follow, which I do with mine own handwriting re¬ 
cite for my own comfort in the memory thereof, with assur¬ 
ance that God hath accepted the same in such favourable 
sort as she findeth now the fruits thereof in heaven/ 

He then proceeded to enumerate Mildred's benefactions, con- 

Daughters of Anthony Cooke 

eluding “And wool and flax for poor women in Chesnut, to be 
wrought into cloth and given to the poor.” 

In this enumeration of her charities there is nothing to mark 
her as a Protestant, let alone a Puritan. We have here rather 
an example of what Jordan has called the “secularization of 
philanthropy.” 27 A better expression would be the laicization 
of philanthropy. What had happened was that the resources 
of the state had been dissipated by wars and the resources of the 
church despoiled by the state. Neither was in a position to re¬ 
lieve the poor. Private philanthropy stepped in. The chief 
givers were the London merchants and the London merchants 
were the core of the Puritan party. Her example does illustrate 
the introduction of a vast social change under the impact of a 
particular situation and a particular religious ethic. 


Katherine, Lady Killigrexu 

STC is Short Title Catalogue 

' A. F. Scot Pearson, Thomas Cartwright (Cambridge, 1925), 172-3. 

2. George Ballard, Memoirs of British Ladies (London, 1875), 142-7. 

3. Edward Dering appears in the DNB. He is briefly treated in Leon¬ 
ard J. Trinterud, Elizabethan Puritanism (New York, 1971), where 
his Sermon before the Queen is reproduced and a letter to Mrs. 
Barret, but not those to Lady Killigrew. Dering appears repeatedly 
in M. M. Knappen, Tudor Puritanism (Chicago, 1939), third im¬ 
pression 1970. There is a good sketdi in Pearson, op. cit. 

4. Trinterud, op. cit., pp. 159-60. 

5. A Parte of a Register (Edinburgh, 1593), a copy in the Beinecke 
library of Yale University in which is inserted a photostat of an 

6. Certaine godly and comfortable Letters in his Workes (London, 
1614), Beinecke library of Yale, STC 6678. 

Elizabeth, Lady Hoby, Later Lady Russell 

7. Hoby, Thomas in DNB and Christina Garrett, Marian Exiles (1938). 

8. His tracts STC 13539 aR d 1 354 °» both in Beinecke Lbrary, Yale. 

9. George Ballard, Memoirs of British Ladies (London, 1875), pp. 
137-8. Dorothy M. Meads, Diary of Lady Margaret Hoby (London, 
> 93 °)- P- 34 - 

116 Daughters of Anthony Cooke 

10. Calendar of State Papers, Elizabeth, Domestic 1595-97, CCLX, No. 
116, p. 310. 

11. STC 21456. 

12. Corpus Schxoenckfeldianorum XIV, Doc. 912 and XV, Doc. 1021, p. 
372 . 

13. A. F. Scot Pearson, Thomas Cartwright (Cambridge, 1925). 

14. Ibid., app. XXIX. 

15. James Spedding, The Letters and Life of Francis Bacon, London 
1861, Vol. I, p. 3. 

16. William Urwick, Nonconfoimity in Hertfordshire, London 1884, p. 

86 . 

17. A copy of Certaine Sermons can be found in the Beinecke Library 
of Yale University containing 25 sermons of which 12-25 inclusive 
are the work of Anne Cooke. 

18. See my Bernardino Ochino, Florence 1940, together with a briefer 
account in English in Travail of Religious Liberty, Westminster 
Press 1951. 

19. The Works of John Jewel, vol. Ill, Parker Society 1848, pp. 68f. 

20. Thomas Fuller, The Church History of Britain, Oxford 1845, vol. 
V, bk. IX, cent. 16 sec. 7. 

21. Stanford E. Lemberg, ‘Archbishop Grindal and the Prophesyings’, 
Historical Magazine of the Protestant Episcopal Church XXXIV, 
1965, pp. 87-145. 

22. Spedding, op. cit., pp. 40-42. 

23. E1RHNARXIA Sive Elizabetha, London 1582, in the Beinecke 
Library of Yale University. 

24. Samuel Haynes, Collection of State Papers . . . left by William Cecil , 
London 1740-59, vol. I, pp. 293, 301, & 359. 

25. Calendar of State Papers. Spanish 1558-67, p. 580. 

26. Conyers Read, Lord Burghley and Qxieen Elizabeth, New York i960, 
p. 447. 

27. W. K. Jordan, Philanthropy in England 1480-1660, London 1959. 









For Denmark the only women I have been able to discover 
in this period with profound religious involvement are two 
queens and one noblewoman. The first is Isabel (Elizabeth), the 
queen of Christian II. She was a Hapsburg, a sister of Charles V, 
Ferdinand of Austria, Maria of Hungary and Eleanor of Portu¬ 
gal. Of all the members of her family she alone was an avowed 
Lutheran. She has already received treatment briefly in our 
first volume, in connection with her residence in Wittenberg, 
and will therefore be omitted here. 

The second queen is Dorothea, 1 the wife of Christian III. Both 
husband and wife were ardently Lutheran. Their coronation 
ritual was composed by Luthers associate, Bugenhagen. One is 
puzzled to read that it was written in German in order to be 
understood. Why not Danish? The answer is that during the 
preceding period the Danish nobility had been so weakened by 
feuds that the king’s primary support came from the German 
element in his constituency. He was accused of seeking to Ger¬ 
manize Denmark. Such was not so much his intent as his neces¬ 
sity. 2 In his correspondence with the Lutherans in Germany he 
used also their tongue rather than Latin. 

The coronation ceremony is strictly Lutheran. 3 The queen is 
instructed that her head is to be covered. That, of course, could 
be equally Catholic. Was the point specified to insist that the 
affair was religious rather than secular? The king and queen are 


King Christian III and Queen Dorothea 

Queen Dorothea and Anna 

1l 9 

exhorted to promote the holy gospel in perpetuity. Let them pro¬ 
vide for the poor, found hospitals and pay the salaries of teach¬ 
ers and ministers lest the people degenerate into Turks. The 
promise of care for the ministers is repeated in each of the oaths. 

The religious opinions of the pair are better known for the 
husband than for the wife, because we have his letters to the 
German theologians. 4 He assures them of his great concern for 
the pure teaching, the observance of the sacraments, the cure of 
souls. He laments the death of that blessed man of God, Martin 
Luther, and announces measures for the dissemination of his 
works in Denmark. Deviations from strict Lutheranism are not to 
be tolerated and Christian III rejoices that the blasphemous 
Servetus had been put out of the way. Whether his wife approved 
of burning at the stake we do not know. 

Her letters are chiefly to members of the family and in Ger¬ 
man. 5 They are full of godly admonitions of the sort that might 
equally well have been composed by a Catholic. Two sons gave 
her particular concern. Magnus, the younger, appears to have 
been an alcoholic. Frederick, the elder and heir to the throne, 
elicited on that account special solicitude. On December 18, 
1558 she wrote him, “My dearly beloved son: 1 have received two 
of your letters of late and rejoice that you are in good health. 
May the merciful God lead you in the paths of righteousness to 
the welfare of your subjects. My mother’s heart cannot conceal 
from you that your father is very weak, and so . . The and so 
meant that the son’s uneasy head would soon wear the crown. 0 

A fortnight later, three days before the death of the king (Jan. 
1, 1559), came another letter fraught with the gravest concern 
over the son’s behavior. “My dearly beloved son: As to what you 
tell me about Anna I cannot conceal my concern. To destroy 
another’s happiness is something for which I cannot answer to 
God. I well know that our life here below is very brief, but in 
the beyond everlasting. I know you are honorable and would 
not wish to deprive another of happiness. My heart is so troubled 
that I cannot say more.” 7 

The Anna in question was a lady in waiting at the court with 
whom the prince was infatuated. The mother’s reference to 
destroying another’s happiness could not have been to Anna, 

1 20 

Queen Dorothea and Anna 

A portion of a letter from Queen Dorothea to her son Frederick about 
to become Frederick II (Dec. 18, 1558). 

.Meyn hertz levb son, ych hab deyn schreiben bekommen zwey mal 
und byn es erfrogct, das ych deyn gesuntheyt mach erfaren der barm 
herztzyche got der gebe dych das du mochgest leben dych zu der sey- 
lychheit vnd deyn vnderdannen zu dem besten, ych kan dych ausz 
mutterlychen hertzen nycht barchgen das deyn her flatter gar schwach 
ys und so ... . 


“My very dear son: I have received two of your letters and am very 
happy that you are in good health. May the merciful God lead you in 
the paths of righteousness to the welfare of your subjects. My mother's 
heart cannot withhold from you that your father is very weak and 
so . . 

The “and so” intimated that Frederick’s would soon be “the uneasy 
head that wears the crown.” 

Queen Dorothea and Anna 


who was equally enamored, but rather to the young man to 
whom she was betrothed, and probably even more to his family, 
who presumably had made all the arrangements. Such a betrothal 
in that day was deemed well nigh as binding as a marriage. In 
all probability another consideration weighed with Dorothea, 
that a crown prince should not be expended on a lady in waiting 
however honorable, but rather utilized for a political union with 
a queen or princess. Frederick answered that he quite understood 
his mother's concern. 8 He resolved that if he could not have 
Anna he would have no one. She, too, renounced the betrothal 
and remained single. So they continued for a decade. 

During that period Dorothea did her best to arrange an ad¬ 
vantageous match for her son with Queen Elizabeth of England, 
Mary Queen of Scots, Renata of Lorraine or an Austrian prin¬ 
cess. Frederick was obdurate. Then after ten years the king, know¬ 
ing that such a marriage might entail abdication, not to mention 
distress to his mother, married Anna Hardenberg. What impelled 
the couple to this act of defiance? I have suggested that the 
Reformation by individualizing faith personalized marriage. Two 
Danish authoresses suggest another aspect of the Reformation. 9 
The movement itself, they point out, was a revolt against author¬ 
ity. When the queen repudiated the authority of the pope why 
should not they repudiate the authority of the queen? This is an 
interesting inversion of the psychiatric explanation of the origin 
of the Reformation on the ground that Luther in order to be 
somebody in his own right broke first with the authority of his 
father and then with that of the church in order to found one 
of his own. Factually this is invalid, but it is theoretically possible 
that a revolt against parents might lead to revolt against the 
church and also that a revolt against the church might lead to a 
revolt against parents. The Reformation was, indeed, a revolu¬ 
tionary movement, involving new patterns of behavior in reli¬ 
gion, politics and domestic relations. 

But now, after only four years, the union of Frederick and 
Anna was dissolved. What could have happened? My first 
thought, when I knew only the bare facts, was that two persons 
so unflinchingly defiant of the ethos of the times were too rigidly 
independent to get along with each other. Some of Anna’s friends, 

122 Queen Dorothea and Anna 

however, saw in Frederick's repudiation a plain case of infidelity 
to the vow, “till death do us part." 10 I, too, might have thought 
so had I not received from Denmark the book which publishes 
Anna's confidential letters. Then I saw that the difficulty lay in 
Anna’s inability during four years to provide an heir to the 
throne. Frederick had the sagacity to see that if the succession 
were not established Denmark might be embroiled in civil war 
between rival factions of the nobility. His situation was precisely 
that of Henry VIII. But yet not quite precisely. Denmark was a 
Lutheran country and there was no need to be entangled in 
canon law and embroiled with the pope. To obtain a divorce 
Anna would not have to confess that for four years they had 
lived in sin. 

She, too, perceived the gravity of the situation, and this couple, 
so adamant in rejecting the current view in domestic relations, 
when the welfare of the state was involved, renounced their per¬ 
sonal desires. She wrote to an intimate friend, “The king is 
making over to me a thousand dollars (tussind daller, no small 
sum then.) He tells me he knows I am godfearing and com¬ 
mends me to God's care. He assures me he loves me dearly (loffed 
meg harti).” 11 In all the letters of Anna there is not a hint of 

Frederick, after a year, married his fifteen-year-old cousin 
Sophia of Mecklenberg and she enabled him to fulfill the needs 
of state. Anna also remarried. The close friend in whom she 
confided was the one to whom our next sketch is devoted, 
Birgitte Gj0e. 


Queen Dorothea and Anna 


1. The Danske Biografisk Lexikon has brief accounts of Dorothea and 
Frederick II. There is a fuller account of her by Ellen Jorgensen og 
Johanne Skovgaard, Danske Dronninger (Copenhagen, 1910), 96-115. 

2. Dietrich Schafer, Geschichte von Danmark (Gotha, 1895), the chap¬ 
ter “Christians III Verwaltung." 

3. Friederich C. C. H. Miinter, Akstykker vedkommende Kong Chris - 
tian den Tredies og Dronning Dorotheas Kroning . .. i Kj0benhavn 
den i2te Aug. 1537 af Dr. J. Bugenhagen . . . 1831. 

4. Martin Schwarz Lausten, “Konig Christian III von Danemark und 
die Deutschen Reformation," Archiv fiir Reformationsgeschichte 
LXVI (1975), 151-81. 

5. and 6. See the list of illustrations for p. 120. 

7. Carl Frederick Bricke, Konig Frederick den andens Ungdomskjaer- 
lighed et historisk Forsflg (Copenhagen, 1873), p. 42, note 1. 

8. Ibid., p. 44. 

9. J0rgensen, note 1 above. 

10. Bricka, op. cit., Letter No. 24. 
ti. Ibid., Letters 31 and 34, pp. 226-7. 

Birgitte Gj0e 

( 1511 - 1574 ) 

Birgitte Gj0e is of interest by reason of her ardent Lutheran¬ 
ism and her administration of an influential school, modeled 
along the lines initiated by Melanchthon. She was a lady-in- 
waiting to Queen Dorothea and the wife of the Lord High 
Admiral, Herluf Trolle. The husband, as so often, is better docu¬ 
mented than the wife. We have two volumes of their corre¬ 
spondence, including some of his to her but none of hers to him. 
Perhaps while with the fleet he had no filing cabinet. 

He was a staunch Lutheran who had studied at Wittenberg 
and there had formed a life long friendship with a fellow stu¬ 
dent, Niels Hemmingsen, later to be the foremost Lutheran 
preacher in Denmark. The Lord High Admiral certainly took 
his religion seriously and founded the school above mentioned. 
At the same time he appears to have been a bit of a card in 
view of the way he recast the family coat of arms into his book¬ 
plate. The figure above has more of a leering tongue. A leaf on 
the left becomes a sinister beast and the headless chap below is 
more animated. The pelican's beak in place of a helmet is a 
sheer innovation. Was he just poking fun at heraldry? 

Our primary concern is with his wife. Her mother died when 
Birgitte was in infancy. The father remarried and the stepmother 
shipped the child off to a convent. There she imbibed Lutheran 
teaching, insinuated clandestinely, we may be sure, as in other 
instances already noticed. After the death of the stepmother Bir- 



Birgitte G]<pe 

gitte lived for a time with sisters, then joined the household of 
the queen, by whom the Lutheran inclinations would have been 
strengthened. As to Birgitte's education, we are left to inference 
from a letter to her from a minister who sprinkled his Danish 
with Greek and finished with a piece of rather esoteric erudi¬ 
tion which he assumed she would understand. He concluded by 
saying that he was writing on the 25th of March, the day on 
which Adam sinned, the flood was deluged upon the earth, the 
Savior was conceived by the Virgin Mary and on which he died 
to save us from our sins. 

The chronological details arose from the attempt to give the 
gospel a cosmic setting. The nativity was set on December 25th, 
the winter solstice on the old reckoning. The conception fell 
therefore nine months earlier on March 25th, the spring equi¬ 
nox. As for the dates of the crucifixion and resurrection, there 
had been much controversy in the early church, with unwilling¬ 
ness to run the risk of turning Christ into a rising and dying 
nature god if his resurrection were made to coincide with that 
of Attis on the equinox. The Council of Nicea ruled that Easter 
should be celebrated on the first Sunday—that was Christian- 
after the first full moon—The Jewish year was lunar—after the 
vernal equinox. How Adam's fall and the flood were brought 
into the scheme I do not know. The writer apparently assumed 
that Birgitte would. 

The letters from her husband disclose little about her reli¬ 
gious position. He begins always by addressing her as “Darling 
sweetheart" and concludes by commending her to God's unfail¬ 
ing keeping. Religion for this pair was not a problem to be 
discussed, but a life to be lived. He does not probe into the im¬ 
plications of justification by faith, but tells her about a naval 
battle with the Swedes and asks her to arrange for the transport 
of a keg of wine. 

There is a point in her career which offers another illustration 
of revolt against family-made marriages. The stepmother forced 
upon Birgitte an engagement when only fourteen. She objected. 
So also did the young man. Both submitted during the lifetime 
of the stepmother and signed the certificates of agreement which 
were deemed as binding as a marriage. When the overbearing 

Birgitte Gj0e 


parent died, the couple contrived to have the contract nullified 
and in due time Birgitte married Herluf. They had together a 
very happy partnership for twenty-one years. She survived him 
for nine years and busied herself with the administration of the 
school, which a modem historian of the university of Copen¬ 
hagen treats as a forerunner. The curriculum was the work of 
her husband’s old friend, Niels Hemmingsen, who has been 
called the Melanchthon of Denmark. 

Coat of Arms and Bookplate of Herluf Trolle 


Both Birgitte and Herluf Trolle are in the Dansk Biografisk Lexikon. 
There is a full biography of him with a chapter on her by E. Briand 
Crevecoeur, Herluf Trolle (J0rgen Sandal, Denmark, 1959). The letter 
about March 25th is given by T. A. Becker, “Herluf Trolle og Birgitte 
Goye,” Kerkhistorie Samliger (Copenhagen, 1864-66), p. 577. The two 
volumes of letters are edited by G. L. Wad, Breve til og fra Herlof 
Trolle og Birgitte Gj</>e, I-II (1893), (borrowed from the Library of 
Congress.) The history of the University of Copenhagen, which pays 
a tribute to the Herlufsholm school is by Holger Fr. Rordam, KjQben- 
havns Universitets Historic II (1864-72), p. 446. 


s4nna f-^ecler5dotter ^dbsalon 

Anna Pedersdotter Absalon is one of the most renowned women 
from Norway of the olden days. At least so I have been told. 
She was burned as a witch in the year 1590. Her repute may well 
be due in part to the treatment accorded her by a distinguished 
Norwegian playwright, Wiers-Hanssen. John Masefield turned it 
into English and his version of The Witch had a considerable 
run in New York and London. 1 

The story as related in the play is that Absalon Beyer, in his 
sixties, became infatuated with the lovely Anna Pedersdotter in 
her twenties. Her hand was obtained through pressure exerted by 
her mother out of gratitude to him for having saved her from 
being burned as a witch by the fanatical Lutherans. He knew the 
charge to be true but dissimulated. After five years of the mar¬ 
riage, Absalon’s son by a former wife, came home and he and 
Anna were soon infatuated. When a cronie of Anna’s mother 
was charged with sorcery, this time Absalon did not lie and she 
was burned. Stricken in conscience over his earlier duplicity, 
Absalon disclosed the whole to his son and Anna, whose love for 
each other was evident. He admitted he had wronged her. She 
flared up and upbraided him for stealing five years of her youth 
and depriving her of motherhood. She confided to her lover the 
wish that the father were dead that they might be free. He died 
suddenly. At his bier his mother, who had always hated Anna, 
taxed her with sorcery in bewitching the son and killing the 


Anna Pedersdotter Absalon 


father. Anna, who had come to doubt herself, admitted the 
charge. The sequel is left to inference. Powerful drama, distorted 
history! Two points only are correct. She was married to Absalon 
and she did die as a witch. But she was not an unwilling wife 
for five years, rather a devoted partner of twenty-three years. She 
was not deprived of a child. There was at least one son. She was 
not burned by fanatical Lutherans, but by a civil tribunal 
against the protest of the Lutheran clergy. 

Before turning to the real Anna Absalon, a word is in order 
as to why she should be introduced at all in a series on the role 
of women in the religious movements of the age of the Reforma¬ 
tion. She is the only example which brings in witchcraft. The 
theme is relevant with respect to the general attitude toward 
women, since the opinion is current that witch hunting was an 
aspect of anti-feminism. To a degree it was. The word witch is 
feminine and a manual on witches in the fifteenth century ex¬ 
plained that women are the more easily seduced by Satan because 
more credulous, impressionable, garrulous and frail. 2 A modern 
historian finds the explanation rather in that women, because of 
menstruation, were associated with the moon, which presides 
over the realm of darkness. 3 No doubt more women suffered on 
the score of witchcraft than men, but there were male counter¬ 
parts, known variously as warlocks, wizards, magicians, sorcerers 
and necromancers. In 1590, the very year of the burning of Anna, 
a man in Trier suffered in like manner. Dietrich Flade was a 
judge in the witch trials. The accused plead guilty and then 
incriminated the judge himself, whom they claimed to have seen 
in attendance at their sabbaths. 4 

Ordinarily the connection was not immediate between witch 
hunting and the religious issues. Indirectly one may surmize that 
the upheavals of the wars of religion, the exiles of populations, 
the executions for heresy begat a suspicion of sinister forces. In 
the case of Anna, however, the connection was direct. She was 
the wife of Absalon Pederson Beyer, Norway's most illustrious 
humanist scholar at the time and also a theologian and clergy¬ 
man. For two years he had studied under Melanchthon at Wit¬ 
tenberg. Until his death in 1574 Absalon lectured in theology at 

Anna Pedersdotter Absalon 


the Cathedral School of Bergen and was also pastor to the gover¬ 
nor general of the province. 5 

Absalon was a fervid Protestant who supported the clergy in 
the destruction of images. The town council had for some time 
been sensitive to the spoliation and demolition of churches for 
reason of finance and defense. The cathedral at Bergen and other 
churches were demolished on the plea that the space was needed 
for ramparts. Then came religious iconoclasm. 6 The Lutherans 
took over the Kors Kirke and the Maria Kirke. They would allow 
crucifixes, but not images of Mary and the saints. When, then, 
the Lutheran bishop, with the concurrence of Beyer, removed the 
images from the high altar the council was incensed. Since the 
bishop and Absalon were too entrenched to be removed, they 
were struck by charging their wives with witchcraft. Both were 
exonerated by the court. This was in 1575, the year after Absa- 
lon’s death. 

Fifteen years later the case was reopened because a local family 
objected to the marriage of their daughter to the son of Anna, 
who, despite vindication by the court, could never cast off the 
suspicion of her neighbors. The case was reopened. We have the 
records of her trial before a civil tribunal in a modern critical 
edition. The Retsakten 7 (Acts of the trial) begin with a list of 
the names of the judges, nearly all ending in s0nn: Olss0nn, 
Hanss0nn, Jakopss0nn, Biornnss0n and so and so's s0nn, thirty- 
eight persons in all, and not a woman among them. But those 
who gave testimony against Anna were women. Was this femi¬ 
nine anti-feminism? 

We have the testimony of Anna Snidkers, who had a grudge 
against Anna Absalon for having brought her to prison on a 
charge of witchcraft of which she was cleared. Now her husband, 
Giertt, was a cabinet maker who refused, prior to payment, to 
deliver a weaving frame to Anna Absalon. She fumed, stomped 
into the house, accompanied by a headless boy in black. She 
swore to knock out Anna Snidkers, who thereupon fainted and 
for three days was in a coma. On recovering her senses she vomit- 
ted “unnatural matter,” such as feathers, hair, threads and pins. 
She was rather uncomfortable for some time after and for this 
held Anna Absalon alone responsible. Anna Snidkers again be- 

Anna Pedersdotter Absalon 

1 3 l 

came sick and died and for this also she blamed Anna Absalon 

Testimony was given by another Giertt, the husband of Jhani¬ 
chenn, to the effect that Anna had come to have his wife change 
some Norwegian dollars into Danish currency to be sent to her 
son. A dollar fell at the feet of Jhanichenn, who, bending down 
to pick it up, was seized by an unusual sickness. She asked her 
husband whether he had ever had a quarrel with Anna. He said 
that once she had sent for some wine which was not sent, then 
for beer which was not sent, then for vinegar. One present ex¬ 
claimed, “For Jesus' sake let her have it and put the money in 
the poor box." (Perhaps the translation should be “in the poor 
box in the name of Jesus," thus forefending sorcery). This was 
done and Jhanichenn died. 

We have next the case of a lad of about four years, carried on 
his mother’s arm. Anna offered him a cookie. He shook his head. 
His mother told him to take it. He bit and was stricken by an 
illness which made him black in the face, stiff as a log and so 
heavy his mother had to sit down. After a time he died in pain. 
Anna’s response to this was that many children were dying in 
Bergen. Was she responsible for them all? The editor notes that 
women of the lower classes under examination were dazed and 
dumb. Anna had wits and spirit. 

Next the mayor presented the confessions of two women 
previously executed for witchcraft, who, when on trial, had 
claimed that Anna was more adept in the art of necromancy 
than they. She had been with them at the witches’ sabbath on 
the eve of a holy day. Anna Snidkers’ claim was confirmed that 
she had died because of Anna’s hex. Marenn Jacobsdotter said 
that Anna had appeared in the cassock of a priest or the cowl of 
a monk to work the death of the bishop in order that her 
husband might succeed him (ecclesiastical politics enter). 

The most damning testimony came from Anna’s maid, Elena, 
who on oath said that during her twenty years of service she 
had come to know of the witchcraft of Anna Absalon, by whom 
she had been turned into a horse and ridden to the witches' 
sabbath on the mountain called Lyderhorn. Before Anna mount¬ 
ed, Elena twice champed her bit. Elena was very young and did 

Anna Pedersdotter Absalon 


Riding to the witches’ sabbath on a goat. Often the witch was shown 
riding on a broom. That she should transform a person into a horse for 
a steed was not out of line with current belief. 

The Most High Lord of die Witches 

Anna Pcdersdottcr Absalon 


not exactly understand what was going on. On arrival at the 
mountain she was tethered with other horses. A great crowd 
gathered and resolved to cause all the ships arriving at Bergen 
that year to sink and perish. On a second occasion the decision 
was to burn Bergen to the ground. There came a great thunder 
storm on Christmas day in the morning, as we all know. On a 
third occasion the vicious assembly decided to swallow Bergen 
in a flood. Thereupon appeared a man in white raiment with a 
wand who said the Mighty Highest Lord would not allow it 
and dispersed the concourse. Elena further testified that she and 
Anna on their return were very tired and received the sacrament. 

Anna branded all of this as sheer lies, said she had never been 
at the Lyderhorn and didn’t know where it was (though, says 
the recorder, every one could see it from Bergen). Since two of 
Elena’s statements were true, that there had been a thunder storm 
and that she and Anna had taken the sacrament, the remainder 
of her testimony was deemed trustworthy. Anna was condemned 
by a secular tribunal and burned in 1590. Six years later her son 
petitioned the king to reverse the verdict, which tarnished the 
reputation of the family. The king, after two years, upheld the 
condemnation (1598). 


1. John Masefield, The Witch (New York, 1926). 

2. Malleus Maleficarum of Kramer and Sprenger in 148(1, passages in 
English by Julia O’Faolain and Lauro Marlines, Not in God's Image 
(Harper & Row Torchbooks (1973)- 

3. Julio Caro Barofa, The World of Witches, tr. Glendenning (New 
York, 1933), pp. 7-12, 39-40. 

4. George Lincoln Burr, “The Fate of Dietrich Flade” (1890), reprinted 
in Bainton and Gibbons, George Lincoln Burr (Cornell, 1943). 

5. fergen Theodore Jorgenson, Histoiy of Norwegian Literature (New 
York, 1933), pp. 123-26. 

6. Thomas B. Willson, Histoiy of the Church and State in Norway from 
the Tenth to the Sixteenth Century (Westminster, England, 1971). 

7. Bente Gullveig Alver, Llekstro og Troldom (Oslo, 1971), pp. 81-110. 
For help in reading the acts of the trial in sixteenth century Nor¬ 
wegian I am indebted to Sigred Osbcrg of Bergen and Professor and 
Mrs. Nils Dahl of the Yale Divinity School. 

Bona Sforza at her marriage 


Bona Sfc 


If this volume moved consistently clockwise around the cir¬ 
cumference of Europe Poland should not come before Sweden, 
but the queen of Sweden was the daughter of the queen of Poland 
and mothers do come first. Bona Sforza 1 is not the only woman 
chosen to represent Poland. The entire roster exhibits a greater 
social range than we have seen elsewhere and a wider cultural 
diversity, since Bona came from abroad and intensified the Italian 
influence. In her ancestry she included Italy, both north and 
south, and also Spain. 2 Her father was Galeazzo Maria Sforza, 
duke of Milan. Her mother was half a Sforza—the parents were 
cousins—and half Spanish, the daughter of Alonso of Aragon. 
His holdings were in southern Italy, for he was the Duke of 
Rossano in Calabria and king of Naples. 

The period was that of the Renaissance, the age of the despots, 
a time of literary efflorescence, artistic genius, and secularist 
tendencies in the highest circles of the church. When Isabella, 
by marriage to Gian Galeazzo Sforza, became the duchess of 
Milan a masque was staged in her honor. She appeared magnifi¬ 
cently attired, resplendent with jewels, vying with the sun. Actors 
costumed as stars and planets revolved in their orbits, while 
chanting her praises. Then Apollo brought the three muses and 
seven virtues to present a volume of tributes. The designer of 
this masque was Leonardo da Vinci. Another eminent artist in 
this circle was Bramante. 3 


Bona Sforza 

But Isabella was not happy in Milan. Her husband was over¬ 
shadowed by his uncle, Ludovico Moro, who, when Gian was 
little, had been made regent and was not inclined to relinquish 
power. And Ludovico's sparkling wife, Beatrice d'Este, though 
only the duchess of Bari, outshone in the brilliance of her court, 
the very duchess of Milan. 4 Isabella complained to her father. 5 

Her husband died at the age of twenty-five. Isabella clad her 
four children in black. They rebelled. 6 Thus early Bona showed 
spunk. There was suspicion of poison. There always was in the 
case of a sudden death, especially if any one stood to gain by it 
and Ludovico did. He promptly had himself made duke instead 
of continuing as regent for Isabella's little boy. Beatrice d'Este 
became the duchess of Milan and Isabella was made the duchess 
of Bari. She took her children and went to her father in Naples. 
Then after a time assumed her functions as duchess of Bari. By 
that time the only one of her children remaining was Bona. 7 

Her education was continued in the Neapolitan circle, no less 
devoted to the new learning than that of Milan. Bona was given 
the most competent instruction in all of those disciplines deemed 
appropriate for a high lady of the Renaissance: music, dancing, 
familiarity with the classics and competence in Latin. Bona's 
grandmother and mother wrote it and no doubt spoke it excel¬ 
lently. Among the humanists of Naples, one met again that 
blending of the classical and the Christian which made one 
wonder whether paganism was christianized or Christianity 
paganized. The Neapolitan poet Sannazaro pictured the Virgin 
reading the Sibylline Oracles at the time of the Annunciation 
and mingled the gods of Olympus and the denizens of hades 
with the Wise Men and the shepherds. 8 

A tract by a woman, a friend of Bona's mother, 9 blended more 
subtly the pagan and the Christian. Not gods but ideas were 
mingled. The title was De Vera Tranqvillita d’Animo (On True 
Peace of Mind). The first prescription was the Cynic formula, to 
divest oneself in advance of everything of which one could be 
deprived. Live like a dog. The word Cynic is derived from the 
Greek word for dog. Imitate Diogenes. The second prescription 
was taken from the Stoics. Let reason hold in leash all of those 
passions and emotions which agitate the spirit: anger, rage. 

Bona Sforza 


vindictiveness, ambition, pride. Listen to Zeno. Then came the 
Christian answer. “Hold before your eyes that sweet spouse of 
our souls, Christ crucified. He was naked to clothe you, impris¬ 
oned to free you. Look upon his pierced hands, his head crowned 
with thorns to be crowned with glory. Our joy stems from his 
pain, our health from his weakness, our life from his death of 
which through him we have no longer fear.” There is the recog¬ 
nition that the Christian must suffer divers ills including the 
infirmities of age. Every one desires to reach a ripe age but no 
one is pleased to be congratulated on having achieved it. Poor 
girl, what did she know of old age? Her sage observation was 
taken from Cicero. The tract is not basically Christian, for there 
is no recognition that one must not only bear adversity with 
fortitude but must also assume the cross. 

More influential on the development of Bona that Sannazaro 
or the author of this tract was undoubtedly her mother Isabella. 
She would instill in her daughter no profound piety. 10 To be 
sure Isabella practiced her devotions and went on pilgrimages. 
They were often a lark. But in her we find none of those agonies 
and ecstasies of spirit common to her friends, Vittoria Colonna 
and Giulia Gonzaga. Isabella was an activist, who relished 
the opportunity afforded by Bari for the exercise of that genius 
for administration for which there had been no scope at Milan. 
She is said to have been more feared than loved because of the 
tight efficiency which supplied Bari with a canal, a bridge and 
improved fortifications. 11 No talk on her part about bearing 
the cross! 

Yet there was one point at which she took it for granted. Chil¬ 
dren were not to indulge their fancies as to mates. Bona under¬ 
stood that she must comply with parental choice even if there 
were a cross. A young suitor was enamored of her beauty. Her 
word to him was that she could do him no greater good than to 
have nothing to do with him. 12 Well she perceived that the 
duchess of Bari, the one time duchess of Milan, would not allow 
her only surviving child to be squandered on a mere galant'uomo . 

Negotiations for an advantageous match was started early. 
They always were. One plan was that the mother Isabella should 
be married to Francis I of Francis and the daughter Bona to the 


Bona Sforza 

tix,c?c. Doininut c7 hxres,b(Ui urtibut pjckq; cLtruf, uifiorijs celebrity picute cT rcligionc 
iii/ignli t iuJ}ut,clemem,benignui:Anno xtatk LXXXl,Regniuerofui XU 
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Sigismund 1 

Bona Sforza 


Dauphin. But Maximillian, the Hapsburg, the overlord of Milan, 
desired to strengthen his hand in eastern Europe and bethought 
him of Bona. She was proposed as queen to the widowed king 
of Poland, Sigismund Stary, meaning Sigismund the Old. She 
was twenty-four, he fifty-one. 

The wedding took place at Naples in the year 1518 with all 
the pomp and pageantry of the Renaissance. A chronicler gives 
a minute account of what was worn by every guest. Bona herself 
had a bodice of brocade, a necklace of dazzling jewels and an 
intricate braiding of the hair sparkled with golden spangles. Her 
cousin, Vittoria Colonna, was in attendance. Nothing is told of 
her save what she had on. The menu was enough to incapacitate 
the couple for the journey to Poland. Here is a little sample: 

Les pigeons en papillote. 

Le roti ordinaire, avec mirausto, a la sauve au vinaigre. 

Les gateaux florentins. 

Les lapins avec leur sauce. 13 

After fiddling, feasting and dancing the party went by car¬ 
riage to the coast to travel as far as possible by sea. Isabella took 
leave of the last of her offspring whom never again would she see. 

When Bona was crowned at Cracow she was not the queen of 
barbarians. 14 Poland had for some time been open to the influ¬ 
ences of the Renaissance which she was greatly to foster. Cracow 
should become a new Milan. Italian architects and artisans, 
scholars and theologians were gathered into her circle. Italian 
became the court language. Poland came to be one of the most 
cultivated countries of Europe. Bona at the same time, like uncle 
Ludovico, combined cultural efflorescence with statecraft. 

In foreign relations Poland should dominate eastern Europe, 
in part by extending her borders. Prussia became a tributary in 
1525 and Lithuania by stages was formally joined with Poland 
in 1569. Turkey was so much a European power that King Sigis¬ 
mund could address the sultan as Sercnissime ac potentissime 
princeps, amice et vicine noster carissime, “Most serene and pow¬ 
erful prince, our dearly dearly beloved friend and neighbor." 15 
A treaty of peace was made with Turkey in 1533. 


Bona Sforza 

Then too, Bona desired to keep a hold on Italy, north and 
south. In the north we have noted her connection with Milan. 
In the south she was the duchess of Bari and granddaughter of 
the duke of Rossano and lord of Naples. To keep a hold on 
Milan she would have to stand in with France which had not 
infrequently made an incursion into Lombardy. To retain a 
hold in the south required the good graces of Spain and the 
Hapsburgs, for, although Naples was not ruled from Madrid, 
her rulers were Spaniards. The favor of the papacy was also 
requisite, for without it no power survived long in that region. 
Bona manipulated an unstable balance by an adroit and even 
devious diplomacy. 

Internally she undertook to make Poland a centralized na¬ 
tional state in accord with the pattern emerging in Spain, 
France and England. This meant that she must curb the power 
of the lords, lay and clerical. One way was by special favors to 
magnates and bishops. She appointed all of the bishops by ex¬ 
press permission from successive popes and with the consent of 
her husband. 16 As to the qualifications for the bishopric, a 
bishop himself voiced what was evidently her opinion that the 
criteria should be “noble birth, capacity to wield authority and 
devotion to the state and sovereign, and, if private life were not 
above reproach, the incumbent would serve the state with dili¬ 
gence. 17 Her chancellor said that she would be willing to appoint 
an atheist, a Porphyrean (Porphyry was an early opponent to 
Christianity) or a marrano. 18 Opinions differ as to the quality 
of her choices. Gamrat in his own day was dubbed Bacchus. Yet 
a modern says that he was maligned. He was in fact a remarkable 
statesman, dedicated to the consolidation of the royal power and 
at the same time a patron of arts and letters in which he was 
himself proficient. 19 These qualities in the age of the Renais¬ 
sance were, however, not necessarily incompatible. 

A further way to strengthen the monarchy was to pit one ob¬ 
structionist against another. The gentry controlling the diet, 
could be pitted against the magnates in the senate. The nobility 
could be set against the episcopacy and this required no effort, 
seeing that opposition to the clergy was rife among Catholics of 
undeviating orthodoxy. The nobleman Tarnowski, a devout 

Bona Sforza 


Catholic, was vehement in his denunciation of the church. Nor 
was there any difficulty in arousing opposition to Rome. A cor¬ 
respondent who told Bona she was “the one pillar of religion in 
the land” adjured her to keep Rome out of it. 20 

She could also abet dissident religious groups, whether simply 
non-Catholic or anti-Catholic. Poland was in any case the most 
religiously pluralistic state in Europe. 21 This was partly be¬ 
cause the components of the state included groups long since 
diverse, in the east the Orthodox, Armenian and Tartar Muslim; 
in the west the Lutheran, following the incorporation of Prussia 
in 1525. Sigismund was willing to be “the king of sheep and 
goats.” He did think some were goats and tried to keep them out 
of his pastures by edicts against heresy, which, however, he did 
not enforce. And the goats did come in. Lutheranism infiltrated 
from Prussia. Polish students returning from western universi¬ 
ties: Wittenberg, Basel, Zurich and Geneva, imported not only 
Lutheranism but also Calvinism and Zwinglianism. The Italians, 
swelling the court of Bona, were largely responsible for intro¬ 
ducing Antitrinitarianism. Whereas Michael Servetus was burned 
at the instigation of Calvin in Geneva in 1553 for denial of the 
Trinity; in Poland the Antitrinitarians enjoyed toleration for 
some seventy years. 

Just where Bona stood on the religious issues is difficult to ap¬ 
praise. Of all the women in these volumes she among them de¬ 
serves least to be called a woman of the Reformation. Her pri¬ 
mary interests were political and secular. She may, of course, 
have thought of herself as God's elect lady to modernize the 
Polish state. Catholic piety may be inferred from a prayerbook 
with an exquisite miniature of the nativity brought by her from 
Italy. 22 But she may have prized it more for the miniature than 
for the meditations. She did show concern that a Carthusian 
monastery be adequately staffed, 23 but this may have been be¬ 
cause she expected monks to be saints, while bishops might be 

She was certainly not nosing out heresy, for to her confessor, 
the Franciscan Lismanini, she gave a copy of the sermons of Ber¬ 
nardino Ochino, 24 the one time general of the Capuchins, who 
in 1542 had defected to Geneva. Which sermons she gave we are 


Bona Sforza 

not sure. If those published after his “apostasy," they certainly 
diverged from Rome. If prior, they were at least suffused with 
that Franciscan lyricism which made the rigidities of Rome un- 

A miniature from die prayer book of Queen Bona 

Bona Sjorza 


palatable. Lismanini is said to have been shaken as to his papal 
allegiance. More to the point, alike for Bona as well as for him, 
is that he read without her objection twice a week after dinner 
to her son, Sigismund Augustus, out of the Institutes of John 
Calvin. Lismanini later became openly a Calvinist. 25 And Bona's 
physician, Blandrata, became dubious as to the Trinity though 
he was still a good Catholic at the time when he felt her pulse. 

On several occasions she interceded for the Jews 20 and tried 
to save a professor educated at Wittenberg from the clutches of 
his bishop. She failed because the area was beyond her juris¬ 
diction. 27 The cynic may find an ulterior motive for her every 
act, but this at any rate is clear: she did not have the nose of an 
inquisitor. She was essentially a politique, more concerned for 
the stability of the state than for the victory of a single confession. 

One of her qualities drew fire in Poland, rapacity. She had a 
passion for those treasures, which “moth and rust can corrupt," 
and they in turn their owners. A Polish poet, Mikolaja Rej, her¬ 
alded as the father of Polish vernacular literature, included her 
in his compendium of satirical verse. He would not have dared 
to fling obvious darts at the queen, but in an encomium there 
is a thrust. He wrote: 

Bona means good and well named is she. 

Noble her blood and of high degree. 

Brilliant the mind of this eminent dame. 

Heralded now, eternal in fame. 

She came from Italia, land of the muse. 

Addicted to finery. This can abuse. 

Reared in her youth in an excellent way. 

Which land she most blessed one cannot quite say. 28 

The sting here is in the word finery. She collected enough 
jewels to stock a museum. But the gems of nature and the master¬ 
pieces of art were by no means the sole objects of her expendi¬ 
ture. She needed immense sums for the dowries of her daughters, 
the wages of mercenaries, the salaries of craftsmen, the materials 
for edifices and fortifications, the expenses of ambassadors and 
the like. She tried to relieve Poland by bringing in the revenues 
from her Italian estates, but the Italians did not readily allow 

The title page of Budny’s translation of the Bible into Polish 

their wealth to be exported. In volumes of her correspondence 
one need only run the eye down the pages to hit the words 
Naples, Bari or Rossano. She even wrote the Archbishop of Ros- 

Bona Sforza 


sano to collect tithes to be applied to her revenues. He answered 
that for the last thirty years in his diocese the sheep had been 
so badly shepherded that they would yield no wool. As a church¬ 
man he could not use force. Let her confer on him civil juris¬ 
diction. 29 

Complaint is understandable. Nobody loves a taxgatherer. All 
in all she gave Poland a sound administration, notably when, 
as her husband failed, she became the real ruler. 30 A modern 
biographer rates highly her achievement: 

Bona exerted a powerful influence on the form of the mod¬ 
ern Polish state not only by reason of her intellectual gifts 
but even more because she possessed a profound feeling for 
the essential needs of the state. She fused completely the for¬ 
eign Italian strand with the emerging Polish national move¬ 
ment. In the social and economic sphere she aspired through 
her excellent reforms to create a strong authority based on a 
just distribution of goods. In many respects Bona was ahead 
of her times and that was the tragedy of her life. 31 

Such is a modern judgment, but the tragedy was rather that 
she was not sufficiently ahead of her times to let a son marry for 
love. She was shattered to learn that Sigismund Augustus, having 
lost the wife whom he had dutifully married at her behest, had 
now become enamored of an exquisitely beautiful Lithuanian 
princess, Barbara Radziwill, and in the presence of her brothers 
had been secretly married without the consent of his mother, 
his sisters or the Polish diet. 32 Bona stormed, raved and raged. 
Had she not dismissed the charming gallant to marry the pudgy 
old king of Poland? To be sure, she had become fond of him 
afterwards and in his last illness had given him the care of a 
nurse and a maid, 33 but in marrying him she had conformed to 
the wishes of her mother. And now, this son of hers, the only 
son, the beloved son, for whose training she had so sedulously 
cared, totally unmindful of his duty to his mother and the state, 
had yielded to infatuation with a lovely face! Bona had planned 
to have him married to Anne of Ferrara, daughter of the Duke 
and his wife Ren£e (see our first volume), herself the daughter of 
a former king of France. Such a union would forge a link again 

146 Bona Sforza 

with northern Italy and even more with France, which could 
then be induced to bring pressure on the Sultan to restore Bona's 
daughter to the throne of Hungary. 34 And now this mad son had 
wrecked it all! 

Why did he do it? Is a romantic infatuation sufficient to ex¬ 
plain the flouting of his mother and stultifying of the ethos of 
his age? A possible additional factor is the influence of Erasmus 
and Calvin. Erasmus enjoyed a great vogue in Cracow in the 
forties and some half dozen of his books were in the library 
of Sigismund. Erasmus was scornful of political marriages. 
“Princes,” said he, “should eschew foreign alliances and espe¬ 
cially marriages beyond their borders. What sense is there in an 
arrangement whereby a marriage suddenly turns an Irishman 
into a ruler of the Indies or makes a Syrian into a king of Italy? 
Actually royal marriages do not insure peace. England made a 
matrimonial alliance with Scotland and James of Scotland never¬ 
theless invaded England/' 85 As for Calvin, whom Sigismund had 
read under the tutelage of Lismanini, the Genevan council at 
Calvin's instance ruled that if parents refused consent to children 
of age they might be overruled and compelled to pay a dowry. 36 
Sigismund may have been not only enamored but also impelled 
by conscience. 

The news of the marriage came out at the time of the death 
of the old king, whom the son, already elected, now succeeded. 
The monarchy in Poland was elective, though the election usu¬ 
ally adhered to the dynastic principle. Bona's son was now Sigis¬ 
mund II. The Polish diet was as much outraged as she that the 
king should marry a girl so far beneath his station. Her brothers 
were dukes in Lithuania, not kings. And even had she been the 
daughter or sister of a king, the Poles did not want a Lithuanian. 
Her brothers might then become too powerful in the Polish diet. 
Nationalism was at stake. Apparently not religion. Barbara was 
a good Catholic who during the ferment that followed, went 
daily to Mass for comfort. Her brother was a Calvinist, who har¬ 
bored even those with Antitrinitarian leanings. There was no 
prospect that she would either persecute heretics or secede from 

Bona Sforza 




S I AE, P O M E R A N I AE, S A M A G I T 1 AE AC M A 2 O* 



M.n.Lim. xxxv. 

Sigismund Augustus 

^ Braceis^® 1, 

‘• , Cgj^j: 15 50. 

Barbara Radziwill 

Bona Sforza 

The diet held clamorous sessions. Sigismund sat through them 
quietly. Some demanded that he repudiate the secret marriage. 
He replied that the diet should no more demand of him that he 

Bona Sforza 


break his word to his wife than to the diet. Then, it was said, 
let him abdicate. A compromise was suggested. He should be 
king. He should keep his wife but she should not be his queen. 
He referred the proposal to her brothers and they would have 
none of it. He informed the diet that on no point would he yield. 
The leader of the opposition capitulated, “overcome by the king's 
patience and constancy.” Barbara was crowned. 37 

Bona and her daughter Sofia refused to attend the coronation. 
Thereafter Barbara’s health speedily declined. Her hope had 
been that she might live just long enough for the coronation. 
Bona softened. Lismanini shuttled from son to mother to effect 
a reconciliation. Bona at length commissioned him to appear 
before the court with letters from herself and her daughter, 
which he read in Latin to the assembly: 38 

Her most sacred and serene, royal Highness [Bona], by the 
grace of God queen of Poland, my most gracious mistress, 
after long and mature deliberation, seeing that what has 
happened is the will of the Most High, because whatever 
happens is by His will and pleasure, and also because this 
is the will of his most sacred Majesty, her beloved son, which 
should not be contravened, wills that your sacred Majesty 
[Barbara] should be his spouse, his queen and the partner 
of his bed, therefore her sacred Majesty [Bona] promises to 
acknowledge and honor your serene Highness [Barbara] as 
her daughter and beloved daughter-in-law and has deigned 
to commission me her servant [Lismanini] to bear witness 
this day to her conscience. She prays and hopes that the Lord 
God will speedily relieve you [Barbara] of your present ill¬ 
ness and restore you to your pristine health. 

Barbara replied through her minister, “Yes, if only it please 
the most gracious Dispenser.” 30 

She lived but shortly thereafter. As her disease progressed the 
stench was so great that the physicians could not bear to stay 
long in the room, but Sigismund held her hand to the end. Her 
brothers desired that she be interred at Cracow along with the 
queens of Poland, but she said, “Ungrateful Poland shall not 
have my bones.” 40 Burial was at Wilna, the capital of Lithuania. 

15 ° 

Bona Sforza 

Sigismund followed the cortege largely on foot all the way from 
Cracow. Two years later, at the behest of the diet, he submitted 
to a political marriage in the hope of supplying an heir. When 
he died, twenty-one years after her death, his last word was 
“Barbara.” 41 

Some have claimed that the coronation made Poland Catho¬ 
lic. 42 The Protestant clergy were not willing to officiate and the 
Catholics took over. Sigismund rewarded them by edicts against 
heresy which he did not enforce. But the Protestant objection to 
Barbara was not that she was Catholic, but that she was Lithu¬ 
anian. “Precisely,” comments this historian, “Nationalism de¬ 
stroyed religion.” The verdict is too simple. Sigismund could 
never have broken with Rome unless he had been able with 
Martin Luther to say, “Let goods and kindred go. This mortal 
life also.” He was not so minded. The inheritance of Bari, Ros- 
sano, and Naples, was worth a Mass. Besides a sharp break with 
the Catholic Hapsburgs might open a flank to the Turks. 

For Bona the coronation was decisive. Barbara she could rec¬ 
ognize. Sigismund she could hardly forgive. Back she would go 
to Italy. The decision arose not simply from frustration over an 
obstreperous son, but also from despondency because of the fail¬ 
ure of her attempt to convert Poland into a consolidated national 
state under a strong monarchy. The government was moving 
instead in the direction of an autocratic oligarchy. 43 Whether 
any one could have succeeded in diverting the trend is open to 
question. In Germany the territorial states did indeed achieve 
internal consolidation, but not a national unity. That process 
was not completed until the twentieth century and in Italy not 
until the nineteenth. 

Bona had several counts against her. She was a woman. Of 
course a woman could exert a powerful influence. Witness Isa¬ 
bella in Spain and Elizabeth in England. But Bona was resented 
in Poland, when as the old king grew enfeebled, she usurped 
authority, not only from him but also from the nobles. 44 The 
Polish aristocracy might have been more maleable under a man. 
A further count was that she was not Polish. Isabella was Castil- 
lian and Elizabeth an English Tudor. Italianism was, to be sure, 
for a period very much the vogue in Cracow. At the same time 

Bona Sforza 

many Poles resented the Italians and especially one reared in the 
atmosphere of the political intrigue characteristic of the despots 
of the Italian Renaissance, where a sudden death aroused sus¬ 
picion of poison. That inference was made in the case of the 
early death of Bona's father and now she was suspected of having 
poisoned Barbara. Added to all this was her manner. Tomicki, 
her most faithful chancellor, confided to a complainer that the 
queen was imperious, blustering and badgering . 45 Sometimes she 
was brutal. When a blind archbishop stood in her way she told 
him she wished he had lost not only his eyes but his tongue . 40 
Her yoke chafed. 

The reason alleged for leaving was health. Poland had no hot 
baths and the Italian climate suited her better. Sigismund and 
the diet were aghast. The departure of a queen of thirty years 
would reflect on the land. Was she not beguiled by nostalgia for 
the glamor of a vanished youth? Would she be happy there? She 
would miss the honors accorded her in Poland. 

“Honors accorded me in Poland/’ she sniffed. “My mother was 
honored at Bari and I would be.” 

“Oh, yes,” answered the diet, “but remember, if you go you 
will no longer be the Queen Dowager of Poland, though, if you 
return, your status may be renewed.” 

She answered that if her health improved she might come back. 

Sigismund strove mightily to detain her. “This business of her 
health is just a ruse,” he told the diet. “She wants to get back to 
Italy just to get her hands on all the properties of Bari, Rossano 
and Naples and to cut me off from my rightful inheritance from 
my grandmother. She should not be permitted to leave. If there 
is no other way, though it would grieve me greatly, she must be 
imprisoned. It would be a genteel incarceration.” The diet 
thought constraint unseemly. Bona delayed long enough to see 
Sofia married to the Duke of Brunswick. To be sure, he was only 
a duke, but then she was only a daughter . 47 

After the wedding Bona started out. Lest she be detained on 
the way, she had obtained safe conducts from Philip of Spain 
and his wife, Mary Tudor, and even more important, from the 
emperor. Bona is alleged to have traveled with twenty-six car¬ 
riages, each with a span of six horses, so great was the heap of 


Bona Sforza 

Queen Bona widowed 

jewels accumulated over the years. The tapestries she had to 
leave behind. At Venice she received an ovation and Pavia gave 
her a pageant with the sort of triumphal arch that had entranced 
her youth. 

Bona Sforza 


The reception in the south was far different. No one wished 
her to come in person to collect the revenues never sent. And 
before long, Philip of Spain, having won a resounding victory 
over the French, was so impoverished by the expenses of the war 
that he simply appropriated all of Bona’s holdings, leaving her 
nothing. Death quickly followed. Not even a nurse or a maid 
attended her. Only her confessor wiped her lips. Her body was 
placed in a wooden box and moved to the church to stand be¬ 
tween two candles, unattended. As they burned down, the box 
caught fire. Her charred remains were interred in the lovely 
chapel. A bronze table was installed at the expense of Sigis- 
mund . 48 

After some years Spain repented of the shameful confiscation 
and restored the inheritance to the heirs only to breed between 
them and their mates strife and bitterness. The heirs by then 
were only three: Sofia the Duchess of Braunschweig, Anna to be 
the queen of Poland and Katherine, the queen of Sweden. To 
her we shall return after further examples from Poland. 


1. Pociecha, Wladystaw, Krolowa Bona, 4 vols. (Poznan, 1949). The 
fullest and best documented biography. The same author has a brief 
article on her in the Polski Slownik Biograficzny. Kosman, Marceli, 
Krolowa Bona (Warsaw, 1971). Popular and not documented. 

2. Colison-Morley, L., The Story of the Sforzas (London, 1933). 

3. Ibid., pp. 146-7. 

4. Beatillo, Antonia, Historia di Bari (Naples, 1637), reprinted in His- 
toriae Urbium et Regionum Italiae Rariores III (Bologna, 1965) 
p. 175. 

5. Nulli, Siro Atdlio, Ludovico le Moro (Paris, 1922), p. 98. 

6. Ratti, Nicola, Della Famiglia Sforza, 2 vol. (Rome, 1794). Vol. II, 
Donne illustri di Casa Sforza, p. 63. 

7. Dina, Achille, “Isabella dAragona Duchessa di Milano e di Bari," 
Archivio Storico Lombardi, Ser. V, No. 48 (1921), pp. 269-457. 
Croce, Benedetto, “La Spagna nella Vita Italiana Durante la Rina- 
scenza,” Scritti di Storia Letteratura e Politica VIII. 

8. Sannazaro, Jacobo, De Partu Virginis . The Yale Beinecke library has 
an edition of 1526. 

9. Della Vera Tranqvillita deWAnimo Con Privilegio Paul III, Aldine 


Bona Sforza 

Press, Venice 1544. Copy in the Beinecke Library of Yale University. 
This tract has been attributed to Bona's mother. So by Pociecha in 
the encyclopedia article (note 1 aboveV But Ratti (note 6 above) 
shows that uie author was another Isabella Sforza, the natural daugh¬ 
ter of Giovanni Pesaro. She was born in 1503 (p. 172). Pociecha 
gives a Spanish title, La Quietud del alma . Did it ever so appear? 

10. Dina (note 7 above), p; 451. 

n. Ratti (note 6 above), p. 73. 

Beatillo (note 3 above), p. 189. 

12. Croce (note 7 above), pp. 130®. The story was told in the form of a 
novel with fictitious names. A contemporary identifies Belisena as 

13. Giacomo Salvatore, “Bona Sforza k Naples, 1505-17,“ Gazette des 
Beaux Arts III, 18, Nov. 1897, PP* 409-22, and III, 19, May 1898, 
PP* 393 - 406 . 

14. The Cambridge History of Poland (Cambridge, England, 1950). 
The general background and Bona's aspirations. 

15. Acta Tomiciana XIII, No. 203 and XIV, No. 228, p. 360. 

16. Ibid., No. 68 and Pociecha (note 1 above), II, 385. 

17. Acta Historica Res Gestae Poloniae Illustrantia I (Krakdw, 1878) 
P* * 5 - 

18. Pociecha, II, 386. 

19. Kosman (note 1 above), p. 9. 

20. Acta Tomiciana XI, Nos. 183 and 268. 

21. Tazbir, Janusz, A State without Stakes , Kosciuszko Foundation, Li¬ 
brary of Polish Studies III, 1973. 

22. For a reproduction see p. 142 in this volume. 

23. Acta Historica (note 17 above), No. 81. 

24. Lubienszki, Stanislas, Historia Reformationis Polonicae (Freistadt, 
1685), p. 18. Copy in the Beinecke Library of Yale University. 

25. Ibid., p. 41, and Bukowski, X. Julian, Dzieje Reformacyi w Polsce 
(Krak6w, 1883), 1, p. 346, quoting W^gierski, Slav. Ref. p. 126: 
Wotschke, Theodor, “Francesco Lismanini,” Zeitschrift fur die 
Provinz Posen XVIII (1903), p. 219; Hein, Lorenz, Itdlienische Prot - 
estanten und ihr Einfluss ... in Polen ... (Leiden, 1974), pp. 32, 35. 

26. Acta Tomiciana XVI, No. 53 and Zivier, Neuere Geschichte Polens 
(> 9 > 5 )- 

27. Kot, Stanislas, La Riforme dans le Grand Duchi de Lithuanie (Brus¬ 
sels, 1953), p. 10. 

28. Rej, Mikoiaja, R6zn$ Peztnadki Swiata Tego (Warsaw, 1953), p. 
112 . 

29. Acta Tomiciana XIV, No. 416. 

30. Acta Historica (above note 17), XIV, p. 198. 

31. Kosman (note 1 above), p. 9. 

32. Biographies of Barbara: Szajnocha, Karol, Barbara Radziwillowna 

Bona Sforza 

1 JO 

(Biblioteczka Uniwersytctow Ludowych, Krakow, n.d.). Nowakowski, 
Tadeusz, Die Radziwills (Munchen, 1967). Neidier of these studies 
is documented. There is a sketch with bibliography by Pociecha in 
the PSB (note 1 above). 

33. Kromer, Marcin, Martini Cromeri De Origine et Rebus Gestis Polo- 
norum Libri XXX (Basel, Oporinus, 1555), p. 686. Copy in the 
Beinecke Library of Yale University. The statement occurs in Kro- 
mer’s funeral oration for Sigismund 1, and is reproduced in Sabas- 
tiano Ciampi, Notizie . . . colie Vite di Bona Sforza . . . (Firenze, 
* 8 33) P- 36. 

34. Pociecha, “Poselstwo Andrzeja Jakubowskiego ...” Odrodzenie i 
Reformacja w Polsce V (i960), p. 107. 

35. Erasmi Opera (Leiden), IV, 637B and 602E. For the works of Eras¬ 
mus in the libraries of Sigismund and Kmity including the Institutio 
Principis Christiani see Universitas Jagellonica, Acta Scientarum 
Litterarumque, Schedae Historicae Fasc. XXXIII (Krakow, 197*)’ 
Erasmiana Cracoviensis, pp. 35, 48 and 49. 

36. Calvini Opera Xa, 105-106. 

37. Acta Hist, (note 17 above), I, No. 835. 

38. The text is given in Latin in Balinski, Michala, Pisma Historycne 
(Warsaw, 1843), 1, p. 208. Her death wish on p. 181. A Polish trans¬ 
lation is given with Latin interspersed and textual variants from 
Balinski’s in Przezdziecki, Aleksander, Jagielloniki Polskie XVI 
wieku (Krakow, 1868), 1, p. 263 (abbr. Jag.). 

39. Szajnocha (note 31 above), p. 76. 

40. Jag. (note 38 above), I, p. 267. 

41. Jag. I, pp. 265, 268 and Nowakowski (note 32 above), p. 62ff. 

42. Wotschke, Theodor, “Kirchengeschichte Polens,” Studien zur Kultur 
und Geschichte der Reformation 1 (1911). 

43. Lepzy, K., ‘‘Zur Frage der Zentralization und Soveranitiit Polens im 
16. Jahrhundert,” La Renaissance et la Reformation en Pologne et 
en Hongrie (Budapest, 1963), pp. 415-23. 

44. Acta Tomiciana XIV, p. 198. 

45. Ibid., XVII, No. 218, p. 306. 

46. Jag. II, p. 353. 

47. See Szajnocha (note 31 above). 

48. The sequel is described by Klemens Kantecki, Die Neapolitanischen 
Summen (Posen, 1882). Brief biographies of the 180 Italians vari¬ 
ously employed in the court of Bona Sforza are given by Danuta 
Quirini-Poptawska, “Dzialalnosc Wlochow w Polsce w i Polowie 
XVI Wieku . . .” Polska Akademia Nauk-Oddzial w Krakowie Prace 
Komisji Nauk Historycznych N2.32. (1973). 

R. A. Borth, a Pole long resident in Scotland, informs me that Docent 

St. Cynarski is about to publish new documentary material on Bona’s 

last days. 



From the queen for whom politics meant life we turn to one 
for whom religion brought death. She was the first martyr among 
the very few to suffer for religion in the Poland of the sixteenth 
century. Katherine Zalaszowska was the wife of Melchior Weigel, 
a nobleman, a goldsmith and a member of the Cracow council. 
The Lutherans claimed her as their martyr because she objected 
to the elevation of the host and the Antitrinitarians because she 
rejected the doctrine of the Trinity. Her judges condemned her 
for Judaizing and they were probably right. The Jews in that 
period were influencing the Christians, some of whom shifted 
their Sabbath to Saturday. Her arguments against the Trinity 
were those of the Jews and for that matter of the Moslems, who 
objected that human begetting cannot be attributed to God, 
whereas the Christian Antitrinitarians took their departure from 
the doctrine of the two natures in Christ, divine and human. If 
he propitiated God in the divine nature God would be pro¬ 
pitiating God, but if in the human nature the Son would be 
subordinate to the Father. 

With regard to her we have only the records of two trials. Here 
are excerpts translated from the Polish in turn translated from 
the Latin of the ecclesiastical records: 

In the year 1530 on Friday the fifth of July Katherine Mel- 
cherowa, the wife of Melchior Weigel, a citizen and city counci¬ 
lor at Cracow, suspected of the errors of the Jewish religion, 


Katherine Weigel 


having failed to meet the deadline of a deposition of her confes¬ 
sion as to the articles of the Catholic Church, was subject to a 
judgment of default. In spite of this she was allowed to appear 
before the present court, meeting at the quarters of the bishop 
and consisting of Mikolay Bidlenski, scholastic and Vicar Spir¬ 
itual, Jakop Arciszewski, the Official General, Jerszt Myskowski, 
O.P., Doctor. They interrogated her as to the reason for her non- 
appearance at the designated time. She replied that it was not 
out of contempt but she had become suddenly involved and did 
not find suitable occasion. They inquired then as to the articles 
of the faith of the Apostles and the entire confession of the Cath¬ 
olic Church, all her rites and usages decreed by the Holy Ghost: 
the absolution of sins, the salvation of the soul as an undoubted 
conviction. She admitted that she had had certain doubts as to 
the faith arising from feminine curiosity or rather mental de¬ 
rangement and softening of the brain, but now she had no longer 
any doubts and begged forgiveness for her error, imploring for 
herself the mercy of Holy Mother Church, who does not shut 
the door on the penitent, but in mercy receives him. The comis- 
sars ruled that the said Melcherowa should recant in some 
church in Cracow, or in the aula of the bishop in accord with 
the order that she renounce and recant all the errors of the 
Jewish faith and all of the suspicions which have given rise to 
great scandal. 

In the year 1530 on Thursday the 11th of August, pursuant to 
the sentence on the above-mentioned Melcherowa, she was 
brought to the quarters of the bishop to make public recantation 
of the errors of which she was accused. Failing to comply, she 
was committed to prison. Some time later she was brought before 
a company of ecclesiastics to make her recantation. They exam¬ 
ined her again on the articles of the faith, the teaching of the 
Roman Church. She must renounce adherence to any sect and 
the errors of the Jewish faith of which she was accused. Kneeling, 
she then placed her hand upon the gospel and invoked a curse 
upon herself should she fail, and she swore submission to the 
canons. The bishop then accepted her return to the bosom of 
Mother Church and bestowed his blessing, admonishing her 
never again to fall into the like errors and at the same time 

158 Katherine Weigel 

enjoining upon her readiness to receive instruction in all of the 
canons and like features. 

Evidently she did not regard a coerced vow as binding, for 
nine years later we find her again on trial. The secretary of the 
court gave this account: 

In the year 1539 Melcherowa of the city of Cracow, a white- 
haired woman of eighty years, because of adherence to the Jewish 
faith, was burned in the marketplace of Krakow, as I have wit¬ 
nessed. Assembled at the palace of the Bishop Gamrat were all 
the canons of Cracow and the collegiants to hear her confession 
of faith. She was examined with respect to the creed. Did she 
believe in God the Father Almighty, the maker of heaven and 
earth? Yes, she did, and added that he is the creator of all things 
visible and invisible, whose mind and providence are unfathom¬ 
able. We are his people and all things are his according to the 
spirit. She rambled on at length extolling the power of God and 
his inexpressible providence. 

Then again she was interrogated: “Did she believe in Jesus 
Christ His only Son, our Lord, who was conceived by the Holy 
Ghost, etc.?” 

She replied, “God never had a wife or a son, nor could he. For 
him there is no need of sons who die, since the Lord God is 
eternal. He cannot be bom and he cannot die. We are his sons 
and all are sons who walk in his appointed way.” 

Here the collegiants cried out, “Be done with it. You’re wrong, 
you wretch! The prophets have testified that the Lord God, ac¬ 
cording to the spirit, sent his Son to be crucified for our sins that 
his obedience might atone for our disobedience from the days of 
our father Adam.” 

Then the doctors labored with her greatly. But against all 
their persuasions she remained adamant that God could not be 
a man and could not beget. When she could not be dissuaded 
from her Jewish religion she was pronounced guilty of blasphemy 
against God and was turned over to the temporal arm (meaning 
the secular court, because the ecclesiastical court could not pro¬ 
nounce the sentence of death). A few days later, as above men- 

Katherine Weigel 159 

tioned, she was sent to the stake. She went to her death unaf¬ 

Another source adds, “as if to her wedding." Gamrat, who pre¬ 
sided at her condemnation, was that lecherous and bibulous 
bishop nicknamed “Bacchus." 


Excerpts from the acts of her trial are given in Polish translation by 
Julian Bukowski, Dzieje Reformacyi w Polsce, I (Krakow, 1883), pp. 
176-9. A condensed version is given in Lukasz Gornicki, Dzieje w 
Koronie Polskiei, ed. Henryk (Wroclaw, 1950), pp. 12-13. Professor 
W. Urban informs me that the originals of the sources utilized by 
Bukowski have been lost. Other contemporary documents are extant 
and Professor Urban has kindly sent me extracts from the Latin acts 
Archiwum Kurii Metropolitalnej w Krakowie, Acta Episcopalia 16 fol. 
124V-125V; i3or-i3iv; 134V- 135c; 18 fol, 88V-92 and 3ir. This material 
adds nothing save for more vilification of “apostasy and Jewish per¬ 
fidy'’ and the jargon of jurists who, to cover every contingency, must 
use six synonyms. The sentence reads, “We teach, say, decree, pro¬ 
nounce, define and declare that . . ." The statement that she went “as 
to her wedding’’ is in Adrian W^gierski, Systema Historico-Chrono- 
logicum Ecclesiarum Slavonicarum (Rhenum, 1672), p. 207. Yale Uni¬ 
versity Library, collection of 1742, number 8.6.19. The Polish version 
of a year earlier has been reprinted: Woiciecha W^gierskiego, Kronika 
Zboru Ewangelickiego Krakowskiego (1671). Reprint Roku, 1817, 
pp. 3-4. Copy at the Pacific Unitarian School for the Ministry, Berke¬ 
ley, Calif. 

Jadwige Gnoinskiej made a significant contribution to the reli¬ 
gious and cultural life of Poland for which she has received only 
the most minimal recognition. She sparked the foundation of a 
“new Jerusalem’' which became a veritable city with a distin¬ 
guished academy and an extensive publishing house. 1 She was 
the wife of a Polish nobleman, Jan Sienienski, Castellan of Zar- 
nov, in the days of Sigismund Augustus. The husband was a 
Calvinist, the wife an Arian. This was the name applied to those 
who like the ancient heretic Arius subordinated Christ the Son 
to God the Father. The group was called also Antitrinitarian 
and later Unitarian. The adherents preferred to be called simply 
Brethren, or more precisely Polish Brethren to distinguish them 
from the Czech Brethren. 

Jadwige brought her husband from Calvinism to this persua¬ 
sion. This may have been more of an achievement than to found 
a city, for at the instigation of Calvin, Servetus the Antitrini¬ 
tarian, had been burned at Geneva. Having achieved the con¬ 
version, Jadwige induced her husband to place at the disposal of 
the Arians a sufficient portion of his vast estate for the founding 
of a utopian community. The recognition accorded to her mem¬ 
ory was the naming of the city from the heraldic device on her 
coat of arms, a red crab on a field of white. In Polish the word 
for crab is rak. The possessive adjective is rakow. This was the 
form used for the name, Rakow, the City of the Crab. 2 In the 


Jadwige Gnoinskiej 161 

subsequent annals she does not appear, though her husband and 
son are mentioned. In 1638 the husband was described as vener¬ 
able at the age of seventy. In that case he must have been only 
nineteen when he made the donation in 1567. 

Examples of the rak (crab or crayfish) on the 
heraldic device of Jadwige Gnoinskiej 

Her intentions can best be inferred from the deed of donation/ 1 
The terms were exceedingly generous. The settlers were to be 
exempt from all the imposts and obligations commonly levied on 
tenants and serfs. They were to have free use of the surrounding 
woods, rivers and meadows. Each house should have a sufficient 
allotment for a garden and meadow, though cattle might also 
range on common meadows. The inhabitants were to keep in 
repair bridges, walls and moats and for the purpose might use 
cakes of dried manure. The rights were guaranteed in perpetuity. 

More significant than such benefits was the assurance of in¬ 
violable religious liberty. Each should be free to follow the lead¬ 
ing of the spirit. Such a proviso, if taken to the letter, would 
have admitted Muslims and Jews, not to mention Lutherans and 
Calvinists. But this was certainly not the intent. Rakow was to 
be the Zion of the Polish Brethren and there was a hint that the 

162 Jadwige Gnoinskiej 

patron would exercise a measure of control over anarchistic fac¬ 

Besides the assurance of livelihood and liberty was the attrac¬ 
tiveness of the area; 4 the soil somewhat sandy to be sure, but 
adequately fertile, the climate temperate and salubrious, the site 
entrancing with woods, streams and a lake in a land smiling with 
luxuriant meadows. Settlers came from near and far, dug wells, 
felled trees and built houses standing to this day. Life was sus¬ 
tained from the produce of the soil and crafts. A visitor felt him¬ 
self transported to a world remote from wars and tumult where 
men were so modest of behavior as to seem angels, though spir¬ 
ited in debate. 5 

In all of this description we find no word of the patroness. Had 
she perhaps passed early from the scene? That may well have 
been the case. There is, however, another explanation, plausible 
though not demonstrable, that the neglect of her memory was a 
phase in the disintegration of a utopia. At the outset the Racovi- 
ans patterned their New Zion on what they conceived to have 
been the model of the early church, marked by communism, 
pacifism, egalitarianism, laicism and feminism. In the course of 
less than half a century these features were eroded. 6 

The communism appears to have been rather of the sharing 
of surplus than the common ownership of all property, rather 
the type mentioned in Acts 5:4 than in Acts 2:44-45. Some nobles 
indeed arrived penniless. Others retained their estates and lived 
on them rather than migrating to Rakow, yet were in close touch 
with the Racovians. This lack of uniformity may well have con¬ 
tributed to the breakdown. Another factor was disillusionment 
with respect to the religious communism of the Hutterian Breth¬ 
ren in Moravia. A visit left the impression that their regime was 
too rigid and authoritarian. Basically the circumstances were 
different. The Hutterians were exiles living in enclaves isolated 
from their hosts, whereas the Racovians were Poles living among 
Poles and subject to the pressures for conformity. 

Pacifism at first required total abstention from warfare. The 
brethren who sat in the Polish diet wore only wooden swords. 
But this stance was hard to maintain in a country at war with 
the Tartars. The first stage in accommodation was the acceptance 

Jadwige Gnoinskiej 163 

of noncombatant service and the final stage a complete acqui- 

Egalitarianism required that master and man, mistress and 
maid should call each other brother and sister. Ideally there 
should be no serfs and there were cases of emancipation but this 
appears never to have been the rule. 

Laicism meant that in the earliest years there were no official 
ministers. Every member was a mouthpiece of the Holy Ghost. 
But when all the mouthpieces began to fulminate against each 
other the factionalism became so rife that some members left and 
those who remained reinstated the ministry. 7 

Finally there was feminism, 8 the most important item for this 
study. But before we can discuss disintegration we must inquire 
whether there was anything to disintegrate. Is it true that the 
sisters enjoyed an equality with the brethren even to the point 
of preaching? The testimony comes almost entirely from hostile 
sources and one may be inclined to dismiss the stories as the fab¬ 
rications of malicious slander. To this the reply is that the 
charges were not sufficiently malicious to have been simply 
slander. The standard slander against dissident groups in the 
history of the church has been that of sexual orgies. In the re¬ 
proaches leveled against the Brethren an erotic slant was slight. 
It was entirely absent in the earliest instance of the allegation of 
female preaching. The witness is none other than the Queen 
Bona Sforza herself. Just before her departure for Italy (1551) 
she had a conversation with Cardinal Hosius who tells us that 
when he lamented the spread of heresy into every corner of the 
land, she added, “Yes, every crucifix in Cracow has been smashed 
. . . and even women, I hear, are preaching. While my husband 
was alive I would have taught them what it is to preach. I'm a 
Christian queen and I won't stand for any of this nonsense." 9 
Who were these women? Calvinists might well have demolished 
the crucifixes but neither they nor any other main line Protes¬ 
tants would have allowed women to preach. With whom are we 
left if not the Polish Brethren? 

Twenty-two years later, in 1573, an abbot named Reszka testi¬ 
fied to the predominant role of women among the Brethren. 10 
“They ware unstable, flitting like Salome from opinion to opin- 


Jadwige Gnoinskiej 

ion, M thus showing that Protestantism ends in anarchy. Finally 
in 1614 we have the charge, leveled by a Jesuit, that among 
these “spirituals” a minister may be required to give heed to the 
commonest folk, a tailor, an artisan, a peasant and a woman. 11 

Thus far we have encountered no Oedepodian banquets, nor 
do we ever, but there were two instances in which sex was in¬ 
volved. The first was a charge by that same Abbot Reszka 12 lev¬ 
elled against Ochino, whom we met in our first volume when he 
was the Savonarola of his generation in Italy. Since then, having 
turned Protestant, he had incurred successive banishments until 
in 1564 he landed in Poland. Now Reszka asserted that Ochino 
had written a work dedicated to King Sigismund Augustus in 
defense of polygamy. The subject was touchy at the moment 
because the king was in the plight of Henry VIII. As his third 
wife, King Sigismund had married the sister of Barbara, his first 
wife. No one of the three had given an heir. This was regarded 
as a judgment of God for disobedience to the Mosaic prohibition 
of marriage with a deceased wife's sister. Should Sigismund then 
take a bigamous wife? 13 Ochino, continued the allegation, had 
openly from the pulpit in Cracow defended this course till he 
was shouted down by the clamor of women and forced to leave 
the country. 

There are two errors here. He had indeed written on polygamy 
in a work dedicated to Sigismund. The tract was a dialog in 
which the arguments in favor of polygamy were advanced by one 
party and refuted by the other. The conclusion was that polyg¬ 
amy might not be allowed except by reason of a special revela¬ 
tion, such as that given to the patriarchs of the Old Testament. 
Secondly, Ochino was not banished for this. The king wished to 
expel radical Protestants. The Catholics said this would be tacitly 
to tolerate other varieties. The king then banished foreign Prot¬ 
estants and among them Ochino. 14 

The most significant point for us in all this is to know who 
the women were. Since Ochino had been excommunicated by 
Rome, his hearers would not have been Catholics. And since he 
had been banished from Zurich and Basel they would not have 
been Zwinglian, Calvinist or Lutheran. Whom, then, have we 
left if not the Polish Brethren? Two points here are significant: 

Jadwige Gnoinskiej 165 

one that the objectors were protesting against any hint of polyg¬ 
amy; the second that women dared to shout down a preacher. 

The next instance is the tale that a minister of the Brethren, 
after a wedding, exhibited the bridal pair standing in a garden 
beneath a tree, stark naked. 15 The minister denied the allegation, 
but the rumor may have been true somewhere and the incident 
not erotic. The pair were Adam and Eve and this dramatization 
was parallel to that practised by men of Rakow who constructed 
heavy crosses and under their weight staggered about the land in 
fulfillment of Christ’s injunction to take up the cross. ir> These 
Racovians were living in a perpetual Oberammergau, dramatiz¬ 
ing both the Old Testament and the New. 

This then is the testimony of the hostile sources. There is one 
confirmation from within the group. We have a letter reporting 
on the first synod of the Brethren held in 1565 before ever Rakow 
was founded. This letter twice declares that the decisions of the 
synod had the approval of the brethren and the sisters . 11 Yet in 
1614 an apologist of the Brethren, replying to the Jesuit above 
quoted, answered that a tailor might indeed be endowed with 
the spirit but in the deliberations of the church no heed was 
given to the opinions of boys and women . 18 

Why in the course of fifty years should there be in the annals 
no mention of the role of women and at the end a flat denial? 
The suggestion has already been made that the change was a 
phase of the disintegration of a utopia. Then why did the utopia 
disintegrate? For two reasons: the absence of persecution from 
without and the lack of isolationism from within. The Brethren, 
as we have noted, were tolerated in Poland for a hundred years 
and shared in the common life. They were laughed at by friendly 
neighbors and ridicule from within is often harder to bear than 
vilification from without. Their young did not relish being jeered 
for wearing “lousy sheepskins,” 19 nor to see cartoons of one of 
their ministers as a fox in clerical garb proclaiming the teachings 
of Mohammed on the Trinity. Because preaching by women was 
even easier to ridicule it may have been the first feature of the 
utopia to go and the least to be remembered. Do we have here 
an explanation of why Jadwige Gnoinskiej was accorded not so 
much as an epitaph? 


-juivu. naojj^J&ucn^ 
nJicnit>}9 u '°yo\ti Pj9a 

^s> irwiyuv 

3Auq oj p9pjoD9J si euAzjeie^j -qDjnqD 3qi JO SilEJJE oqj 

Ul J3AO ^OO} U31UOM 3qi ‘AuiiE oqj UI 3J9M. U3UI aqi ‘09-9991 JO 

uoiseaui qsipaAvg 3qj Suunp ‘uaqM -paAiAaj sbav Ajistuiui ojeui 
-3j ^nju3D jjeq jaqjouB J3jjK j^qj pp^ ‘j3A3Moq ‘ppioqs auo 



LdiysuiouQ jSicnpvf 

Jadwige Gnoinskiej 167 

engaged alike in pastoral care and also preaching. 20 Her activity 
can have lasted scarcely more than three years because in 1658 
the Arians as a whole were banished. The reason for her assump¬ 
tion of ministerial functions was obviously the absence of men, 
but even so would she have been so presumptuous had there not 
been a latent tradition of equality? In any case during those 
turbulent years there was little time or inclination to delve into 
archives that credit might be given to the woman who initiated 
the new Jerusalem and Jadwige is still remembered only as the 
Lady of the Crab. 


1. On the influence of Rakow see the essays by Tazbir and Tworek in 
Lech Szczucki, Wokol Dziejow Tradycji Arianizmu (Warsaw, 1971). 

2. Stanislas Lubienski, Historia Reformationis Polonicae (1585), p. 239. 
Copy in the Beinecke Library of Yale University. 

3. The documents on the founding are given in Polish in Stanislas 
Tworek, “Rakow Osrodkiem Radykalizmu Arianskiego, 1569-72” in 
Rakow Ognisko Arianizmu, ed. Stanislawa Cyrarskiego (Krakdw, 

4. Lubienski, note 2 above. 

5. E. Morse Wilbur, A History of Unitarian ism, vol. I (Cambridge, 
Mass.), p. 361 and note. 

6. Stanislas Kot, Socianism in Poland (Boston, 1957) on the general 
disintegration. On the Racovians and the serfs see Waclaw Urban, 
Chlopi Wobec Reformacij w Malopsce w Drugiej Polowie XVI W. 
(Krakow, 1959). 

7. On factionalism: Lubienski, “Poloneutychia,” in Humanizm i Re~ 
formacja, ed. Chrzanowski and Kot (Warsaw, 1927), p. 423. 

8. On the role of women: Waclaw Sobieski, “Modlitewnik arjanki,” 
Reformacja w Polsce 1 (1921). Aleksander Bruckner, Roznowiercy 
polscy Ser. 1 (Warsaw, 1905), pp. 132, 148, 196-200, 273. Stanislas 
Kot, Le Mouvement Antitrinitaire au XVIe et au XVIIe Sttcle 
(Liege, 1936), p. 81. 

9. Hosii Epistolae II, nr. 1559 for the year 1556. 

10. Reszka's letter in Jan Czubek, Pisma politycnzne z czasow pierwsego 
bezkrolewia (Krakdw, 1906), Nr. LVI. 

11. Smiglecki, Refutatio vanae dissolutions Nodi Gordii (Krakow, 1614). 
p. 67. Cited in Sobieski (note 8 above), p. 59, note 5. 

12. Reszka, De Atheismis et Phalarismis Evangelicorum Libri Duo, Stan¬ 
islao Rescio Presbytero (Neapoli, 1596), p. 59. 

i68 Jadwige Gnoinskiej 

13. Zygmunt Wdowiszewski, Genealogia Jagiellonow (1968), pp. 106-8. 

14. Roland H. Bainton, Bernardino Ochino (Florence, 1940), p. 133 ff. 

15. Lubienski (note 2 above), p. 197. 

16. J. Paleolgus Defensio Verae sententiae de magistratu politico (Losk, 
1580), pp. 315-19. Text supplied to me by W. Urban. 

17. George Hunston Williams, The Radical Reformation (Philadelphia, 
1962), pp. 688 and 699. 

18. Smalc (or Smalz) Notae in libellum M. SjJiiglecii (Krakow, 1614); p. 
33, cited by Sobieskie (note 8 above), p. 59, note 6. 

19. Kot, p. 61. 

20. Jan Durr-Durski, Arianie polscy (Warsaw, 1948), p. 17. There is 
some material about her in the sketch of her husband by Jan Czu- 
bck, “Waclaiu z Potoka Potocki,” Archiioum do Dziejow Literatury 
i Oswiaty w Polsce VIII, 1895. 

There was one area in which women in all lands had a rec¬ 
ognized role, namely in devotional literature: poems, hymns, ^ 
prayers and meditations. They did not write treatises on syste¬ 
matic theology. Perhaps they were not interested. Perhaps they 
acquiesced in the prevalent low esteem of their competence. With 
respect to the devotional they were unchallenged. We have 
noticed in the earlier volumes the meditations of Katherine Zell 
in Germany, the religious poetry of Vittoria Colonna and Olym¬ 
pia Morata in Italy, the verses of Marguerite of Navarre in 
France and the meditations of Katherine Parr in England. In 
Poland the Protestant movement gave rise to a considerable pro¬ 
duction of this genre whether by women or by men in order to 
meet the need for household instruction in prayer and song. Wit¬ 
ness the accompanying woodcuts. Of the three women about to 
be noticed here the first was Calvinist, the other two Arian. 

Zofia Olesnicka, the Calvinist, was related either as sister or 
wife to Mikolaj Olesnicki, the lord of Pinczow, who turned over 
an abandoned cloiser church in that city to the Calvinists and 
authorized the removal of all the images. In this church was 
celebrated in the year of 1550 the first evangelical Lord’s Supper. 

We know very little about Zofia beyond these bare facts. We 
do have her picture. And we have the hymn because of which 
she is called the first poet in the Polish tongue. The hymn was 
published in 1556 with a four-part musical setting. Notice that 



Three Polish Poets 

Zofia Olesnicka 

each of the parts was printed separately, marked discant, tenor, 
alto and bass. The form of the hymn was that of the acrostic 
very popular in that period. The first letters of each line reading 
down give the name of the author. In this case I am quite unable 
to carry over the device into English because twice she has used 
the letter Z, for which the only possible words in our tongue are 
zeal and Zion. Zeal might do but Zion never. Here is a free 

With gladness of heart. Lord, I praise Thee. 

Thy mercy has deigned to behold me. 

Three Polish Poets 


And turned not away from Thy servant 
Who trusts herself wholly to Thee. 

Thou hast hidden in secret Thy kingdom 
From the eyes of the wise and the prudent, 
Because they trust to their reason, 

As our dear Lord has told us. 

Thou hast called us Thy little children 
And shown Thy measureless mercy. 


gbj) bfcmtff fpdc 

Family prayers and hymn singing in Poland 


T E NOU »- 


fwrtitt titbit wpf&u» ^dti)j4(hym f rtc «m hekit wyjt M\op 

‘P&uc/jes tp^fjVtn Idjfuvuym f<wjjft 

mopip 4 nk gttfpOPiem 14 (?um xa; 

f$j/t Wfjrjfc n£ mtc/pcfo. wc*>rti na mif / Zticfttrebjite$ |t«je? 

ujtimte fu?Oiep/£tomfpe wffof.&A) 

I* rcmoc opto* 

inict fwoiej*/ &$r<3 tvflptfe 6at? 


tvaiocaptcpe fcwoiVpv 

WAM mot? tp ofiemtajlterA* 

si*t me jr$edn<{ mv 22tf3s4r&j?.-p$fo* 

sijpt me jr$edn<{ mv 22tf3s4r&j?.-p$fo* 

rp (ft^eimice frMicp/ ftora fre mffy t*? 

rp (ft^eimice frMicp/ ftora fre mffy t*? 


v j -i 

■^(S^them flrrcem £i*bi< wyflW 

it»y$£/$e«ej> «fiem£df£4 w.weji 

r{ei pi mt'e/ttw&irtyfci putt (Tuje; 

(mu« fa)$)'cp/KtarA fit »ffe»fr to w 

moc 4 pto ftvupfey- 

a kj 

Musical setting to her hymn 

Three Polish Poets 


We have, therefore, reason abundant 
To sing every hour of Thy glory. 

O fount of love everlasting, 

Uphold in the power of Thy spirit, 

That in Thy truth we be constant 
And faithfully keep Thy commandments. 

Better to safeguard Thy treasure, 

Which neither moth nor rust can corrupt 
Than enmeshed in the ways of the world 
To forfeit Thy favor forever. 

In this, Lord of heaven, sustain us, 

For vain else is all our endeavor, 

Be we not drawn by Thy love 
And fainting upheld by Thy spirit. 

We falter not in assurance 

That Thy promises shall be kept to Thy servants. 

What Thou deignest to give in Thy pleasure 
We trust to receive without measure. 

Let each, then, with seemly rejoicing 
Praise with his soul the Lord’s goodness. 

For He will work for us wonders 

While foul maggots receive not forgiveness. 

Sing then to the Lord of all goodness. 

Sing ye faithful. Sing of His glory. 

Soon by His grace He will save us 
Through the merit and death of His Son. 1 

Our second Protestant poet was an Arian, who died slightly 
before the founding of Rakow. Her name was Regina Filipowska, 
the wife of the prominent Arian minister alleged to have drama¬ 
tized the scene of Adam and Eve in the garden. She was married 
to him between 1550 and 1552 and was very active with him in 
the Arian movement until her death in childbirth in 1559. Her 
hymn is dated 1558. I have been able to discover the text of only 
the first line: “My hand to Thee, Almighty God.” 2 


Three Polish Poets 

The third example is another Arian poetess of the period after 
the Racovians had circumscribed the role of women. The date of 
her prayer book can be determined only approximately. There 
is a reference to an event of the year 1621. A single copy has 
been preserved in the British Museum. The acrostic discloses her 
name as Margareta Ruarowna, or undeclined Margaret Ruar. 
Her father was Marcin Ruar, a very distinguished leader among 
the Arians. In this instance the acrostic can be carried over into 
English because she does not use the letter Z. Here is a slightly 
free translation: 

M ighty is prayer to close the sluices of heaven. 

A nswer gives prayer to all of our needs. 

R iches exceeding and wealth without measure 

G od has conserved, safe in His keeping. 

A bundant for flesh, abundant for spirit. 

R adiant joy and resolute courage. 

E lijah prayed once for the closing of heaven. 

T hen he implored that the heaven be opened. 

A lways to pleading God gives a prompt answer. 

R ain from the cisterns descended in torrents. 

U ntil then the earth parched now yielded abundance. 

A lready the ground had been hardened and arid 

R eturning the dew moistened the furrows. 

O how needful is prayer who can question 

W hat is so potent, so powerful and active? 

N owhere receive we else blessing eternal. 

A 11 is of Thee. Of ourselves we are nothing. 

The prayers themselves disclose a fervent devotion to Poland, 
the more so perhaps because the Ruar family had been trans¬ 
planted from Germany and may, therefore, have been eager to 
display undivided loyalty to the new fatherland. Here are a few 
excerpts from the prayers. 

“O King, all the nations are as a drop from the bucket and 
are accounted as dust in the scales. The nations in Thy sight 
are as nothing and are esteemed as vain and empty. The whole 

Three Polish Poets 


world before Thee is as the quivering of the balance, as the drop 
of the morning dew when it lights upon the earth. All the 
peoples are under Thy sway. Thy chastisement is upon other 
nations. One after another is broken, as vessel upon vessel. One 
Thou raiseth up and one casteth down. Empires are born, grow, 
flourish and wax old and still unripe are by Thy holy will con¬ 

“Protect, O Lord, Thy kingdom of Poland. Thou wert her 
defender when shortly ago in her ordeal, the Turks at Thy be¬ 
hest withdrew (in 1621). How can we assume that this was due 
only to the courage and valor of our people or to chance when 
the sequel, as a clarion, proclaims the work of Thy hand? As our 
nation owes to Thee her deliverance, so ought we to render unto 
Thee thanks unceasing and far in excess. Thy munificent boun¬ 
ties display beyond cavil the knowledge of Thy truth.” 

“Chasten not Thy people because of those who assist not in 
dispelling errors, but rather for the sake of Thy children among 
them extend Thy mercy. Deliver not Thy people to the shame 
and mockery of other nations. Save us from dissension within, 
from the bloody sword of the enemy and from the cruel oppres¬ 
sion of the pagans.” 

“Give unto us peace under Thy fatherly hand. Forfend con¬ 
tention and confusion within our borders. Restrain the envy of 
neighbors that Thy children, O Lord, may dwell in Thy king¬ 
dom in righteousness and peace. Establish the kingdom of our 
fathers. Grant us Thy protection as of yore. For Thy mercy's 
sake pardon our transgressions. Suffer us not to succumb to dis¬ 
ruption but do good unto Thy children among whom hitherto 
Thy glory has found an abode.” 3 

Three Polish Poets 



1. The text is given in modern script in Historya Literatury Polskiej VI 
(Krakow, 1844), p. 446. The musical setting is in Wojcicki, K.W.T., 
Biblioteka starozytnych pisarzy polskich I. wyd. 2 (Warsaw, 1859), pp. 
9‘ l6 - 

2. There is a brief biography of her in PSB VI. A biographical notice 
of her poem is in Szweykowski, Zygmunt M., Z dziejoio polskiej kul- 
tmy muzycznej (1958), p. 290. No. 14. This poem also is an acrostic. 

3. The text is given in Sobieski, Waclaw, “Modlitewnik arjanski,” Re - 
for macja w Polsce 1 (1921). 

s^nna ^IFjci rch ocha 


Anna Marchocka 1 is included here as a representative of the 
^ Catholic Counter-Reformation. Her name as a religious was 
Teresa in recognition of Teresa of Avila. That Anna should 
turn to Spain is indicative of the foreign influences playing upon 
Poland in this period. Protestantism and notably radical Prot¬ 
estantism, was sparked and fanned extensively by religious refu¬ 
gees from Italy.- One thinks of Lismanini, the Calvinist, Vergerio, 
the Lutheran, but more particularly of Blandrata, Alciati, Stan- 
caro, Ochino and the Sozzini among the radicals. The Counter- 
Reformation was spearheaded by two Spanish movements; that 
of the Jesuits, founded by the Spaniard Ignatius Loyola, and the 
Carmelites, reformed largely through the efforts of Teresa of 
Avila. 3 

Her autobiography was published in Polish translation in 
1608. Following her lead, Anna Marchocka wrote an autobiog¬ 
raphy, the first of its kind to be composed by a woman in Poland. 
There is a great similarity in their careers. Anna, like Teresa, 
was plagued by both physical infirmities and spiritual depres¬ 
sions. The historians of mysticism inquire which influenced the 
other. A novice like me can only observe that physical weakness 
can alter a disposition and an emotional crisis may bring about 
a physical collapse or, on the other hand, a rejuvenation. 

Teresa (Marchocka) tells us that, reared in a devout family, 
she considered becoming a nun, but deferred decision like Augus- 



Anna Marchocka Teresa 

tine, whose saying she quotes, “O Lord make me chaste, but not 
yet." She felt unworthy to take the vows and constantly be¬ 
moaned her deficiencies. After such hesitation she entered the 
order of the Carmelites, who had already been introduced into 
Warsaw from Belgium. During the ceremony of induction the 
rule of St. Francis was read. She was eager to conform and was 
appalled to discover that the rigors of the rule were in abeyance. 
At that point Joseph appeared to her in a vision. One recalls the 
devotion of Teresa of Avila to Joseph. He now berated Anna 
and the whole convent for the utterly shameful disobedience to 
the injunctions of the founder. Anna was so upset as to fall into 
an illness which endangered her life. On recovery she set about 
the work of reform. Two new Carmelite houses were erected at 
her instance. One was at Cracow. Apparently her efforts were 
not so bedogged as those of Teresa in Spain. 

The autobiography of Anna oscillates, like that of Teresa, 
between aridity and the overflowing of the fountain of mercy 
and the glory of God. The style is jerky and disjointed, betray¬ 
ing intense emotion. She delineates five stages in her religious 
experience. In the first stage the soul suffers from dryness, with 
inability to understand, feel or imagine. It is beset with aliena¬ 
tion from God and from man, overpowered by fear, dread and 
estrangement. The mind is feeble, the memory faint. Forgetful¬ 
ness is such that one knows not where one is, whether awake 
or asleep. The lapse may be no longer than the saying of an 
Ave Maria, but seems interminable. The mind races in frantic 
uneasiness and can light on nothing, can press nothing out of 
the wine-press, as it were. God is locked out. 

The second stage is even more dramatic. The spirit is weighed 
down, grievously wounded, finding everything bitter, distracted 
by diffidence in which there is still some hope, and desperation 
in which there is none. The will is impotent. This is the suffer¬ 
ing of hell. 

The third stage brings alleviation. The mysteries are still un¬ 
raveled, but God no longer hides himself in thick darkness, is 
not walled by fear and distance. One has the certitude that God 
is within oneself. The experience is incomprehensible, inde¬ 
scribable. There is an antinomy between the feeling of forsaken- 

Anna Marchocka Teresa 


ness and the craving for God engendered by the sense of God 
within. Reason finds these two hard to reconcile. “I was trou¬ 
bled/’ she says, “till I read the reflections of Holy Mother 
(Teresa) in the sixth book of the Castles (Moradas) and the sec¬ 
ond chapter. Everything she there writes I have experienced. By 
this reading I became enlightened and tranquil/’ 

In the fourth stage, the God in man completely takes over. 
Everything now disappears, all ideas, all knowledge, all means 
and ways. There is a sort of nothingness, yet at the same time a 
great desire, wish and affection for the Lord. This is not, how¬ 
ever, an abiding state. There is a constant rhythm. Again the 
spirit is disquieted, the body breathless. The spirit is forsaken 
like Christ’s upon the cross, and the body is like his in the depo¬ 
sition. One does not then desire human company, dislikes being 
asked, “What has happened? Why are you groaning?” One must 
retire, be alone. How can one speak of the supernatural with 
the light of heart? “I turned again,” she says, “to the writing of 
the Holy Mother in the last section of the sixth book of the 
Castles but I would not yield my pride and allow her to help me. 
My confessor chided my stupidity in not hearkening to her word 
and enjoying the divine gift.” 

In the fifth stage the soul stands naked before God. There is 
nothing but a feeling of an abyss of pain, of tears before the 
Lord, such as Christ experienced on the cross. This cannot be 
expressed by the pen unable to write in tears. What a comfort 
then there is when the load is lifted and one is made free by 
commitment to the will of the Lord. One is now content with 
everything without any striving to understand what is better, 
what more truthful, with no desire of any good for oneself, with 
no fear of evil, no yearning for heaven, no dread of hell, no will, 
intelligence and understanding, but with full freedom of the 
divine will. This is all I feel, nothing more, nothing from me, 
everything from the Lord. Nothing remains for the soul but to 
believe and trust in God, without any knowledge, without any 
understanding, nakedly. 

The alleviation of her agonized cry, “Oh that I knew where I 
might find Him!” was the experience of ecstasy, occurring some¬ 
times as often as thirty times in a year. Her editor says that the 


Anna Marchocka Teresa 

unusual feature of her narratives is that with dispassionate ob¬ 
jectivity she describes the physical accompaniments. Once her 
hands became cold, the heart thumped, she was as if in a fever 
and yet felt no cold. Another time her hands became numb espe¬ 
cially on the left and the left eye was affected. Breathing was 
hard. Everything went black. Slowly she regained her senses. The 
sisters at the Carmelite monastery at Cracow thought she was 
suffering from epilepsy and so did the doctor. She was distressed 
that such experiences set her off from others who did not under¬ 
stand. If only they could see what she saw. When the experience 
was joyful she had the sense of jumping and flying, when pain¬ 
ful she felt like a batter of bread in the oven when the yeast 
rises and the crust explodes. 

Here is a prayer which voices her aspirations: 

Oh my Father, Thou knowest, Oh Lord, my desire and I 
know that neither thought, nor word, nor imagination can 
attain. I beseech Thee, Oh merciful God, grant unto me 
light and learning that I write not that which is not worthy 
to be written. Let me not be subject to passing fancy, nor to 
the base and vile, the empty, futile and worthless. Suffer me 
not to sink in the slough of doom. O glorious God! deliver 
me from distrust and affliction. Be Thou to me a physician 
and buoy that my words may have purpose and profit. Grant 
me to be blessed forever. Humbly I beseech Thee, my Father. 
Cover me with Thy pinions, enlighten mine eyes that I wan¬ 
der not in a haze, knowing not what to write nor where. 
Let me but know Thee, Oh God.” 4 


i. There is a sketch of her in the Polski Slownik Biograficzny, XIX un¬ 
der the name Marchocka, Anna Maria. 

An analysis of her mysticism is given by Karol Gorski, Od religynosci 
do Mystyki (Lublin, 1962), pp. 108-21. 

He gives a critical edition of her autobiography as “Autobiographia 
Mystica M. Th^resiae A Jesu Carm. Discalc (Anna Maria Marchocka), 
1603-1652." Scriptores Poloniae Ascetico-Mystici vol. II (Poznan, 


Anna Marchocka Teresa 


2. On the Italian influence on Polish Protestantism, Massimo Firpo, 
“Sui movimenti ereticali in Italia e in Polonia nei secoli XVI-XVII” 
Revista Storia Italiana LXXXVI, Fasc. II, 1974. 

3. The Spanish influence is covered by Stefanna Ciesielska Borkowska, 
“Mystycyzm Hispanski na Gruncie Polskim” (Krakow 1939) Polska 
Akademia Umiejetnosci Rozprawy Wydzialu Filologicznego. 

4. Autobiographia, p. 112. 

I am indebted to Professor Alexander Schenker, head of the Slavic 
department at Yale, for help in reading Anna's sixteenth century 

Katarina Jagellonica 


^J^atarina ^acj-edc 


Katarina, the queen of John III of Sweden, may seem an odd 
choice to illustrate the role of women in the religious move¬ 
ments of Sweden in the sixteenth century. She was not Swedish, 
but half Polish and half Italian, the daughter of Sigismund I of 
Poland and his wife Bona Sforza of Italy, to whom a sketch has 
already been devoted. But Katarina had a greater influence in 
Sweden and beyond than any other woman of the period. Sweden 
at that time was no isolated outpost of Europe but was in inti¬ 
mate relation with the lands of the north, England and Denmark 
on one side, Poland and Russia on the other and with the whole 
Mediterranean world. A volume of documents from the reign of 
Katarina and John, edited in a modern edition, is in seven lan¬ 
guages. Of these the queen spoke at least five and probably all. 
She had Polish from her father, Italian from her mother, Latin 
from her humanist education, Swedish from her subjects, German 
from diplomats and craftsmen at her court, French and Spanish 
from the royal envoys. She conversed with her husband in Ger¬ 
man or Italian, since she did not know Finnish nor he Polish. 
The court language was Italian. 1 

John’s marriage with Katarina precipitated them both into 
dire trouble. The hereditary principle governed the succession, 
and on the death of Gustavus Vasa the crown went to his eldest 
son by a first marriage, Erik XIV. There were three half brothers 
by a second marriage. Magnus died mad. The Vasas were bril- 

8 3 

184 Katarina Jagellonica 

liant but unstable. John and Karl were made dukes, the former 
in Finland, the latter in Sodermanland. They were largely inde¬ 
pendent but nevertheless feudatories of Erik, the king. This am¬ 
biguous relationship made trouble for John. Without his sov¬ 
ereign s consent he wooed and won the Polish princess, Katarina 
and gave to her brother, Sigismund II, a huge loan, taking for¬ 
tresses in pledge. The ensuing events are related in an anonymous 
tract so dramatic as to suggest fiction, were not the author Marcin 
Kromer, 2 a Pole loyal to his country and to Rome and desirous 
of strengthening Poland against Russia through a union with 
Sweden. Protestantism should be exterminated in both lands. 
The best means would be to effect the union under a sovereign, 
a scion of both the Vasas and the Jagellons, and firm in the 
Catholic faith. There was only one who could fulfill the condi¬ 
tions. Sigismund, the son of John of Sweden and Katarina of 
Poland and reared in her faith. To prepare the public mind a 
piteous tale is related of the sufferings and steadfastness of the 
child's parents. 

Kromer tells us how John, the duke of Finland, was enamored 
of the Polish princess, renowned for her beauty and sought after 
by the Russians and Italians alike. John gave as partial dowry a 
huge loan to the Polish king with castles in pledge. The wedding 
was celebrated in Poland with all of the accustomed festivities. 
Erik did not attend. The journey of the bridal pair to Finland 
was arduous and protracted. The ship, which tried to take them 
from Riga, was ice bound. A channel was cut, allowing a return 
to Riga where they were detained for forty Sundays, waiting for 
clement weather. On the next trip the ship was taken over by the 
Swedes and the passengers set ashore. They had to walk thirty 
miles. When they did reach Finland there was no welcoming 
delegation and but one sled for the conveyance of the queen 
alone. When the news spread five hundred horsemen appeared 
and carried the pair to the royal quarters to be dined and wined 
and feted with dances. 

Not for long! Erik accused his brother of treason for having 
made an independent treaty with a foreign power, and for hav¬ 
ing withheld taxes from the royal exchequer. All Finns were 
released from the oath of fealty to the duke. Eight thousand 

Katarina Jagellonica 185 

Swedish soldiers came to take John and Katarina to Sweden. John 
sallied from a castle with only a few hundred retainers and re¬ 
pulsed the attackers. [This sounds like an Old Testament mir¬ 
acle, unless perhaps the Swedes were loath to join in this fratri¬ 
cidal strife.] Then came a ship a-sailing. John thought it brought 
help from Poland. It was from Sweden. He capitulated and on 
St. Bartholomew’s day in 1563 he and Katarina were conveyed 
to Sweden. Erik told her that since her husband was guilty of 
lese majeste the marriage bond was dissolved. If she would leave 
him she would be free. If not, she would share his captivity. She 
responded by holding up her wedding ring on which were en¬ 
graved in Latin the words, “Whom God hath joined together,” 
and vowed again to God to be faithful “till death do us part.” 

They were for a time marooned on an island with no protec¬ 
tion save a little shelter made from sails, then were transferred to 
meager quarters in the castle of Gripsholm. Visits from friends 
were forbidden, but merchants smuggled in money in wine bot¬ 
tles. [Presumably this was also the method of introducing letters 
from her sister Anna in Poland of which we know from other 
sources.] In captivity Katarina gave birth to Isabella. For swad¬ 
dling clothes she purchased a few rags from attendants. The child 
lived only a year and a half. Next came Sigismund, the great 
consolation of his mother. Katarina was at length allowed as 
attendants one or two Polish women and as chaplain a somewhat 
enfeebled old Polish prelate. 

John, in the meantime, besought his brother to bring him to 
trial that he might vindicate his innocence. He was transferred 
to Stockholm to appear before the king. A mile from the city, 
guards forced him to take a road lined with gallows on which 
were hanging his former servants. Then came a squabble over 
jurisdiction. Erik insisted that the case should be heard by the 
archbishop or by the Riksdag (the council). John said that he 
was amenable only to the king. Erik then ruled that, since he 
would not plead before those delegated, he should be relegated 
to more severe imprisonment. Katarina, in the meantime, was 
sick with suspense. 

For her a more grievous ordeal was in store. Ivan the Terrible, 
the Czar of Russia, sent word to Erik that the Polish princess, 


Katarina Jagellonica 

Katarina, should be given to him as wife. The czar sent one hun¬ 
dred sable hides, lynx furs, costly jewels, while promising 500,000 
gold pieces and 30,000 knights to augment the king's armies in 
addition to castles in Livland. Erik pondered this proposal five 
times. The czar informed him that if he declined Russia would 
attack not only Livland, but Sweden as well. Erik well knew that 
the move would be unpopular at home, executed seven nobles 
and then sent word to the czar to come for the lady. Ivan sent 500 
horsemen with sleds to the border to await her coming. Erik then 
assured Katarina that by consenting she would cement the 
friendship of the two countries and earn for herself an eternal 
weight of glory. Let her tell the czar that she alone had desired 
to be the czarina of so mighty a lord. Erik himself would conduct 
her and would be to her as a father and none would give her 
more friendly counsel. 

Katarina gave a flat no and appealed to God. Erik was minded 
to kill John and ship her off, but she was pregnant (as it turned 
out with Anna to be named for her aunt in Poland). John be¬ 
sought his brother to wait at least until after the birth of the 
child. The Riksdag let Erik know that such unchristian behavior 
was not to be tolerated. One of the nobles delivered a protest. 
Erik had him killed. Then Erik's son remonstrated with his fa¬ 
ther, “You do wrong, O king, to kill an innocent lord without 
trial. I'd rather be killed than to be guilty of such cruelty." And 
he was then killed by his father's hand. Another nobleman up¬ 
braided him, “My Lord King, why have you murdered these 
two? You have killed the heir apparent. If you murder your 
noblemen you too will fall.'' Erik screamed, “You have forbidden 
me to send the princess to Moscow. You're a traitor," and cut 
him down. 

The next day there appeared before Erik a man in white rai¬ 
ment, saying, “Tyrant you have nurtured the plan to kill your 
brother and send his wife to Moscow. As God's mouthpiece I tell 
you that his anger is kindled against you. If you do not permit 
your brother and his wife to return to his kingdom, God will take 
away your kingdom and will deprive you of your reason. You 
will tear off your clothes. You will eat grass like an ox, and as a 
beast you will wander among the crags of the forest. God will 

Katarina Jagellonica 


send you into everlasting imprisonment at the hands of your 
enemy. He has heard the cries of your brother and his wife. He 
will take them under his mantel and you will be consigned to 
everlasting damnation." 

Erik asked his attendants if any one had entered the room. 
They assured him there had been no one. Then he sent a hench¬ 
man with retainers to kill John and Sigismund and to send 
Katarina to Moscow. The soldiers, informed of their mission, re¬ 
fused. Erik’s one time teacher, a man of eighty years, came to 
remonstrate. He was cut down. Erik then, observing the disaf¬ 
fection of his people, suddenly veered, and summoning some of 
them said, "Who is your king?" "You, my Lord," was the re¬ 
sponse. "I am not your king," he answered. "I am a tyrant. 
Sweden has never had such a tyrant." Stripping himself of his 
clothes he went out into the woods. After three days and nights 
he was found and brought back to Stockholm. Three nobles 
were chosen to carry on the administration. Restored to his 
senses, Erik asked how he came to be in this plight. When told, 
he recalled the vision of the man in white raiment. 

Erik then composed a humble supplication to the mighty 
Prince John who should be the king of Sweden and Finland and 
to the Princess Katarina, to be the queen of Sweden, beseeching 
them out of Christian charity to forgive his offenses. He would 
make over the crown, the scepter and the robe to his brother 
and his heirs and would be to them a faithful subject. All the 
jewels and gold in his treasure chest were to be made over to 
John and Katarina. Erik would like to have a little bit of terri¬ 
tory left to him as a feudatory of his brother, who, he hoped, 
would spread the unadulterated Word of God and hearken to 
the teachings of Luther and Melanchthon. Erik begged to be 
allowed to write his memoirs without abusiveness. When he 
should be gone let none besmirch his memory and let a marble 
monument commemorate his achievements. 

John refused to accept the abdication, swore fealty to his 
brother as king and asked only to be restored to Finland. The 
half brothers met. At first John did not recognize Erik, then 
doffed his hat. Erik in turn genuflected, asking pardon in the 
name of God. Gladly would he resign and let John take over 

188 Katarina Jagellonica 

the kingdom. With the sign of the cross he besought forgiveness 
from Katarina. Then he held out his hand to young Sigismund, 
who slapped it. Erik laughed and kissed the boy. The banquet 
was delayed by a contest of humility between Erik and John, 
each insisting that the other take the higher place. 

Then came war with Denmark. John raised a considerable 
force to support his brother. The Swedes, thereupon, greeted 
John with acclaim saying, as it were, “Saul has killed his thou¬ 
sands, David his ten thousands/' Erik was consumed with jeal¬ 
ousy. He had under way a great banquet to celebrate his mar¬ 
riage to his concubine, a commoner, whom the Riksdag had at 
last given him permission to make his wife and queen. Erik now 
conceived a plan at the banquet to murder John, Sigismund, the 
other brother Karl and all the nobles in attendance. Now the 
mother of John and Karl happened to be friendly with the mis¬ 
tress whom Erik was about to marry. This girl got an inkling of 
the plot and dropped a hint to the mother who relayed it to her 
sons. They promptly raised troops and took over the castle. Erik 
continued preparations for the banquet. When the food arrived 
without the guests he went out to inquire, only to find himself 
beleaguered by his brothers. After a brief resistance he capitu¬ 
lated, and was consigned to a prison where he spent his remain¬ 
ing years studying mathematics and astronomy. Kromer con¬ 
cludes, “He wrote an illustrated history of his war with his 
brother. [What became of it?] He was very fat. This is the worst 
history of our century. The Christian was more cruel than the 

Erik had spoken of the great treasure he would confer upon 
John and Katarina. John could not find it and excavated un- 
availingly around the castle of Stockholm. He thought of having 
Erik tortured to disclose the spot. Katarina stopped that. Many 
plots centered around Erik to rethrone after dethroning John. 
The Riksdag decreed that if there were another conspiracy Erik’s 
life would be forfeit. There was another of which he may have 
been quite unaware, seeing that he was closely guarded. The 
jailer was ordered to make away with him. Poison was used. 
That is authentic. A modem exhumation has disclosed arsenic. 
John may not have signed the death warrant but he did not 

Katarina Jagellonica 189 

intervene to save him. Erik's son then fled to the continent where 
he was supported in part by funds supplied by Katarina. 3 

On John's accession to the throne Katarina's period of influ¬ 
ence began. Like her mother she was a devotee of the Italian 
Renaissance to which John also was addicted. He was the most 
learned of all the kings of Sweden and in addition to command 
of the languages already mentioned was able in Greek to read St. 
Cyril. He had, besides, a passion for building. Just as Bona 
Sforza, the queen’s mother, had made of Cracow a new Florence, 
so Katarina and her husband wafted bellissima Italia to the land 
of the midnight sun. Imported architects and artisans left the 
imprint of Italian design on the public buildings of Sweden 
with colonnades and gardens. 4 Witness this sketch of the portion 
of the castle at Stockholm reconstructed during her reigns. Un¬ 
fortunately the garden and swimming pool do not appear. 

But our concern is not with Katarina as a princess of the 
Renaissance but rather as an agent of the Counter-Reformation. ^ 
She was a Catholic, but not of the type then regnant, which sent 
to the stake those mildly deviant from the standards of the 
Council of Trent. Her Catholicism was of the same stripe as her 
mother’s, stemming from the liberal circle of Naples in the early 
years of the century. In the fifteen seventies a Catholic of Kata¬ 
rina’s stripe was an anachronism. Sweden was Lutheran but also 
not of the rigid type which had developed since Luther. In Swe¬ 
den there were at the same time some remnants of Romanism as 
well as leanings to Calvinism and Philipism, named for Philip 
Melanchthon. Nevertheless, by the time Katarina became queen, 
one is able to say that Sweden had become “morbidly susceptible 
to any whiff of popery.’’ 5 

We must now double back to give a brief review of the stages 
of the Reformation in Sweden up to this point. John’s father, 
Custavus Vasa, having thrown off the lordship of Denmark, had 
established a national church in Sweden in 1523, a decade before 
a like development in England. He might have been ready to 
recognize a titular headship of the pope provided the king were 
“the highest protector of the Holy Christian faith throughout 
the whole realm,’’ with authority to appoint bishops, collect 

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Communion in Both Kinds in 1548 
From the Handbook 

Katarina Jagellonica 

! 9 * 

tithes and expropriate church property. Rome would make no 
such concessions and Sweden became independent. 

The reforms were at first comparatively mild. The Mass be¬ 
came a communion, not a sacrifice and was said in the vernacu¬ 
lar. The cup was given to the laity (communion in both kinds). 
There were to be no private masses said by the priest alone for 
the dead. Marriage was allowed to the clergy. Some popular 
practices, at first optional came to be forbidden: the use of im¬ 
ages, pilgrimages, invocation of saints and the use of incense. 
Holy days were reduced. Tithes were collected by the govern¬ 
ment. For a time there was some overlapping of old and new. 
The Handbook of 1548 shows the administration of the cup to 
a lay woman, but the priests are still in Roman vestments. By 
1552 one could say that “the Roman Church had ceased to exist 
in Sweden.’' 

The Lutheran Church which succeeded was, however, not sim¬ 
ply a state church. Gustavus said that his appointees in the high¬ 
est sees were no more inclined to implement his entire program 
than “a Frisian cow to spin milk.” When Olavus Petri and an¬ 
other of the chief reformers were insubordinate, the king accused 
them of treason and condemned them to death. Popular feeling 
forced commutation to fines. When the Emperor Charles V in 
1549 tried to impose the Interim, which conceded to the Protes¬ 
tants only communion in both kinds and recognition of clerical 
marriages already contracted, the entire Swedish clergy declared 
themselves ready to die rather than submit. By the end of the 
reign of Gustavus in 1560 the point had been reached when the 
crown would have tottered had the king either tried to return to 
Rome or to impose his own will unconditionally. 6 

Under Erik XIV, despite his temporary insanity, the reform 
became more Lutheran. One little episode is illustrative. Giving 
the wine in the eucharist to the laity heavily drained the Swedish 
liquor supply all of which had to be imported. The Calvinists 
were willing to substitute cherry juice. The Lutherans objected 
that Christ did not say, “This is my blood,” with reference to 
cherry juice. Erik defused the controversy by opening the royal 
wine cellars to liturgical use and thereby eliminated any Calvin¬ 
ist substitute. 7 

192 Katarina Jagellonica 

This brings us to the period of John and Katarina. Her Ca¬ 
tholicism, though mild, was nonetheless genuine and she did 
desire to bring Sweden back to Roman obedience. So did John. 
But why John? A Protestant historian, writing early in the next 
century, said that he had succumbed simply to the pressures of 
his wife, “for, as Ambrose says in his thirty third epistle, ‘No 
temptation is equal to woman.’ ” 8 But John did have convictions 
of his own. During his captivity he had read not only the Church 
Fathers but also the near contemporary George Cassander. 9 He 
was a German Catholic bishop very active in the forties and fif¬ 
ties in attempts to heal the breach between the confessions. The 
Lutherans and the Calvinists, said he, are not heretics. The true 
Church includes Catholics who are penitent for their sins and 
Protestants motivated only by a sincere concern for reform. They 
are agreed on the essential points necessary to be believed for 
salvation. The essentials are the doctrine of justification by faith 
and the observance of the sacraments. As to the Mass, Cassander 
rejected the doctrine of transubstantiation, held that the Mass 
is not a sacrifice and is of no benefit in and of itself (ex opera 
operato) regardless of the attitude of the recipient. Over non- 
essentials the unity of the church ought not to be broken. With¬ 
in the church, wide diversity should be allowed. In the inter¬ 
pretation of Scripture, tradition should be revered. By implica¬ 
tion the popes and councils were not infallible. Since no pope of 
that day would have sanctioned reforms along these lines, the 
initiative, said Cassander, would have to be taken by princes. 
To this role John was not disinclined. Cassander exerted consid¬ 
erable influence. The Augsburg Interim of 1549 was justified on 
the ground that it was asking from the Protestants acquiescence 
only as to the non-essentials. Melanchthon cheerlessly subscribed 
and the influence of Melanchthon in Sweden was high. 

Another factor to influence John’s mind was the pattern of the 
Anglican Church. While still the Duke of Finland and not yet 
at odds with his brother, he had been sent by Erik to England to 
negotiate a marriage for him with Queen Elizabeth. Nothing, 
obviously came of that, but John did there observe a church inde¬ 
pendent of Rome, retaining much of the Roman liturgy and some 
of the vestments and firmly under the control of the crown. This 

Katarina Jagellonica 


The Augsburg Confession in Swedish in 1566 with die Swedish coat of 
arms and a dedication to the Princess Elizabeth, King John's sister 


Katarina Jagellonica 

system would be ideal for Sweden and it would not of necessity 
require a break from Rome so long as the pope was simply the 
spiritual head of Christendom. 

John's artistic tastes may well have been of influence. He was 
entranced by the music of the liturgy 10 and perhaps in his sub¬ 
conscious there may have been a lingering feeling that outside 
of the Church of Rome there is no salvation, for he is alleged 
once to have said that he would give all of his toes to get his 
father out of the hell to which he had been consigned for having 
expelled the Catholic Church from Sweden. 11 But this point is 
not to be pressed. He would have needed several feetfull of toes 
to cover all of his avowed desires. 

Whatever may have been his convictions there were certainly 
ulterior considerations prompting his willingness to bring his 
country back to papal obedience. His wife’s mother, Bona Sforza, 
the queen of Poland, had immense properties in Italy at Bari, 
Rossano and around Naples. 1 - All of this she willed in equal 
proportions to her three daughters: Anna to become the queen 
of Poland, Katarina the queen of Sweden, and Sofia the Duchess 
of Braunschweig. The portion allotted to Katarina was sufficient 
to pay off the entire Swedish national debt. John was out to get 
it, but he knew very well that he would never succeed if the pope 
were opposed, because the pope exercised an overlordship over 
Naples. The actual rulership of the area was in the hands of 
Philip of Spain and he, too, would not suffer such sums to pass 
into the hands of a heretic. John’s only hope lay in exerting him¬ 
self to the uttermost to bring Sweden back to Roman obedience. 

John had leverage which counted heavily with Pope Gregory 
XIII in the realm of his cherished political objectives. One was a 
crusade against the Turks, and, since Venice had made a treaty 
of peace with them, the only other to whom to look was Philip of 
Spain. The second objective was to dethrone Elizabeth and re¬ 
place her with Mary Stuart. Gregory XIII was the pope who 
excommunicated Elizabeth and released her Catholic subjects 
from their oaths of allegiance. And the only one, again, who 
could implement this program was Philip of Spain. He did in¬ 
deed try later on with the Armada. But at the time he could 

Katarina Jagcllonica 195 

move neither to the east nor the west because his forces were 
tied down in the Netherlands. 

Now John of Sweden happened to have at his disposal a good 
fleet, built up by his brother Erik and no longer needed after 
the peace with Denmark. John had tried unsuccessfully to market 
the fleet when coincidentally came two bids. The one was from 
Queen Elizabeth and William of Orange in order to drive Philip 
and the Spaniards out of the Netherlands. The other was from 
Philip in order to crush William and neutralize Elizabeth. The 
pope wanted the fleet to go to Philip. “Very well,” said John in 
effect. “Let me have my wife’s Neapolitan legacy and you may 
have my fleet” (with suitable payment.) But how could the pope, 
without the most brazen inconsistency, exert himself to transmit 
such a sum to the wife of a heretic? 

How then was Sweden to be purged of heresy? The key was 
Katarina. She had yielded sufficiently to her husband to take 
communion in both kinds. Her sister Anna in Poland remon¬ 
strated and begged her not to do the like again. Katarina justi¬ 
fied herself to Cardinal Hosius on the plea that she had the 
approval of her confessor who had told her that she could not 
go far wrong in taking the wine because Christ gave it to the 
apostles. She knew that this was contrary to the present rules 
of the church and asked absolution for her disobedience but at 
the same time begged a dispensation which would allow her to 
do it again. Would the cardinal by refusal wish “to sow perpetual 
discord” between her and her husband who had forbidden her to 
take communion in one kind only? 

The cardinal replied 13 that “by no means did he mean to sow 
discord but one must obey God rather than man and did not 
Christ say, that whoever loves father or mother (he didn’t say 
husband) more than me is not worthy of me?’ Of course you must 
love and obey your husband and do everything conducive to the 
conjugal bond but when religion is involved Christ is to be loved 
and the divine Majesty obeyed, in comparison with which every 
human majesty is but dust and ashes. Your confessor was mis¬ 
taken in saying that for you to take the wine was no offense since 
Christ gave it to the apostles. The apostles were not laymen. And 
note that when Christ supped with the disciples at Emmaus he 

* 9 6 

Katarina Jagellonica 

broke only the bread. When I translated your letter into Latin 
and read it to his Holiness he was overjoyed that the lost sheep 
is returning to the fold and most readily conceded the absolution 
which you crave but when you asked a dispensation to do it again 
he was simply aghast. I exhort you, I plead with you, I beg you, 
don’t ever ask this again. As for perpetual discord with your 
husband I would remind you of the words of Christ, ‘I came not 
to bring peace but a sword.’ I will say nothing harsher. Your 
husband may eventually come around. 

“In the meantime talk to him in this manner: ‘My king, my 
lord, my husband, of all mortals most dear to me, I am flesh of 
your flesh and bone of your bone. You have authority over my 
body and I would count it a small loss to lay it down for the 
salvation of your soul. I hope I shall not be an Eve whose persua¬ 
sion beguiled Adam and brought innumerable calamities upon 
us all and may you not be to me that serpent through whom 
Eve was beguiled and deceived her husband. You say it is no sin 
to take communion in both elements. I agree heartily. In the 
past it has been allowed but it must be done in accord with the 
order and observance of the Church. I will readily comply with 
your demand that I take the cup if only I can do so without 
disobedience to the Church. Most happily I will comply if you 
will just listen to one little request of mine. The subjects under 
your rule have cast out the religion in which I was brought up. 
I beg you little by little to restore that from which your father 
seceded fifty years ago. Flee to the apostolic seat of Rome. Ask 
forgiveness and restoration. Then, since the Church is most clem¬ 
ent and indulgent, I am sure that communion in both kinds 
will be granted, if this concession will minister to the saving of 
so many souls. For what the Church objects to is not the cup but 
schism. Let the unity of the body of Christ be restored. Then I 
am sure this point can be negotiated. If you talk this way to your 
husband I am confident you will prevail upon him.” 

She did prevail to the extent that John acceded to the intro¬ 
duction of some Jesuits in a new college but with the stipulation 
that they must operate as clandestine Lutherans. Their successes 
were not inconsiderable. One was with the young Prince Sigis- 
mund. After midnight Mass in the chapel at Westeras where the 

Katarina Jagellonica 

1 97 

queen communed through bread alone, the priest secreted a con¬ 
secrated wafer in his vestment and then drew the young Prince 
Sigismund into a separate room where Katarina had converted a 
table into an altar. The priest heard the lad’s confession and 
granted absolution and then asked him whether, having been rec¬ 
onciled to God by a salutary penance, he did not desire a closer 
union with the divine Majesty through the sacred body of our 
Lord Jesus Christ. Sigismund with sighs expressed his fervent de¬ 
sire. “Now,’' asked the priest, “what would you say if the Divine 
Goodness had resolved at this very moment to prepare this heav¬ 
enly food for you?” Seeing the awesome silent response the priest 
fell upon his knees and in a voice choked with tears exclaimed, 
“See, see the Holy Sacrament which the inexhaustible goodness of 
God presents to you this day." The boy broke into tears. When 
he was somewhat calmed the priest continued. “Since you are 
about to receive this inestimable grace you must engage in return 
to uphold the Catholic faith and you must promise me, as if I 
were God, that you will never receive communion in both ele¬ 
ments from the hands of heretical priests." The boy swore and 

John himself made his private submission to the Church of 
Rome, 14 but when it came to the restoration of Roman Catholi¬ 
cism in Sweden his invariable reply was that Sweden could never 
be restored to Roman obedience unless the pope would concede 
the marriage of the clergy, communion in both kinds and the 
Mass in the vernacular. The pope replied that even if these 
points were conceded there was a more serious difficulty. Not a 
single priest in Sweden was qualified to administer the sacra¬ 
ments, because they were not ordained by those in the apostolic 
succession. Consequently the only sacrament which could be 
administered in Sweden was baptism which is valid even if per¬ 
formed by a woman or a heretic. But absolution through penance, 
the Mass, marriage, extreme unction and even Christian burial 
were invalid. 15 John replied that the Swedish Church could apply 
to the Greeks, whom Rome recognized as in the succession. The 
answer was that the Greeks did not believe that the Holy Spirit 
proceeded from the Son as well as from the Father. 16 

As for the concessions which John said were absolutely impera- 


Katarina Jagellonica 

tive if Sweden could be induced to return to obedience, the 
pope’s constant response was, “Submit and we may negotiate.” 
And John’s reply was, “Concede and we may submit.” The inter¬ 
changes dragged on for years. Katarina wished that she might 
return to Poland but resolved to stand by her post. 17 

But John did go as far as he dared with a revision of the lit¬ 
urgy in a form closer to the Roman. Assembling the clergy he 
addressed them himself, pointing to “the lamentable divisions 
among the Protestants by which even their own leaders are so 
disillusioned that they have been approaching the Greeks. The 
proper solution is to return to the apostolic, catholic beliefs and 
practices of the primitive Church as set forth in the Old and New 
Testaments, confirmed by the infallible testimonies of the Holy 
Fathers and sealed by their blood. See how far the Swedish lit¬ 
urgy has departed from the ancient models. Compare it with the 
liturgies of St. James, St. Basil, St. Chrysostom, Saint Ambrose 
and Saint Gregory the Great. 18 We need to restore the ancient 
hymns and antiphons, the ancient order of the epistles and gos¬ 
pels during Lent, the cult of the saints, the prayers preceding the 
preface at the consecration, prayers for the dead, the invocation 
of the saints, the teaching of the corporeal presence, confirma¬ 
tion, auricular confession, clerical celibacy, extreme unction and 
the reestablishment of converts.” 19 

The most stalwart of the Swedish clergy refused to comply. 
Some were imprisoned. Two hundred women stormed a castle to 
secure the release of two pastors. The women were trounced. 20 
Other pastors were exiled. They took refuge with John’s brother 
Karl of Sodermanland. He was as much concerned as John for 
church unity, but whereas John wished to unite the Lutherans 
and the Catholics, Karl hoped rather to effect a union with the 
Calvinists that the two Protestant varieties might present a solid 
phalanx against Rome. His refusal to yield to the authority of 
his brother menaced the stability of the crown. 

All the more reason, then, why John should seek to recover his 
wife's share of the Neapolitan legacy of her mother! In the in¬ 
terim the status of the legacy had changed. Cardinal Hosius had 
suggested to the three sisters that the case could be better handled 
at Rome if conducted by only one sister. They concurred and 

Katarina Jagellonica 


Sofia and Katarina made over their shares to Anna with the 
private understanding that she would restore to each a third. 
Then another shift in the political situation reversed the arrange¬ 
ment. The possibility emerged that Anna could not inherit any¬ 
thing because she married the newly elected king of Poland, 
Stephen Batory, who was claimed to be a heretic because as ruler 
of Transylvania he was a feudatory of the Sultan. Then, Sofia 
having died, Anna made everything over to Katarina with the 
assurance of reimbursement. But at that point Batory was recon¬ 
ciled with Rome. In that case Anna, his wife, could inherit and 
Katarina proposed to go back to the agreement of equal division. 
But John would have none of it. 

Then ensued a piece of incredible chicanery on his part. While 
Katarina instructed her representative to do nothing at Rome 
prejudicial to her sister, John told his emissary to press for the 
ultimate penny. Anna would not believe that her sister could 
treat her so and Katarina grieved to be under suspicion and, to 
clear herself, made over everything to Anna. John had to retreat 
and cleared himself with Anna by laying the blame on his 
Italian representative. 21 

Next came a more distressing rift not simply between the 
sisters but between the kingdoms. 22 After a war of Sweden and 
Poland together against Russia, Poland had made a separate 
peace and had taken for herself Livonia and the port Narva, 
which in the struggle had been won by the Swedes. The Polish 
ambassador came to reconcile John to the agreement by pointing 
out that for the duration of the treaty these territories in Polish 
hands would be free from Russian attack and if Russia struck at 
Sweden at some other point Poland would rally to her side. John, 
in a rage, swore that neither the wisdom of Solomon or the elo¬ 
quence of Cicero would ever aflright him and induce him to 
cede Livonia. 

“Well, then,” said the Polish envoy, “may I talk to the queen?” 

“Go ahead,” and John stalked out. 

The envoy pointed out to her how important it was that cor¬ 
dial relations be maintained between her domain and that of her 
sister, particularly because her son Sigismund might some day be 
the king of Poland. Katarina replied that she had often longed 

200 Katarina Jagellonica 

for an alliance but every plan had gone the way of smoke. She 
was then reminded that Poland was in a position to have recourse 
to constraint and she would find war very grievous. If her hus¬ 
band needed more time for consideration, Poland could wait. 
But if John were thinking of war, then let him think long. 

Katarina answered, “God alone knows how I suffer and how I 
am absolutely devastated by the lack of amity between the two 
kingdoms. I don't think I can influence my husband, but grief 
over it all will send me to the grave.” 

Most distressing to her was the recoil of her husband. The 
Jesuits, who had already accomplished so much clandestinely, 
came out into the open on the advice of the legate who hoped 
thereby to force John's hand and drive him to full submission. 
The reverse was true. He renounced his conversion to Rome 
and expelled the Jesuits. Perhaps even more distressing to the 
queen was that, whereas the son Sigismund sided with her, the 
daughter Anna lined up with her father. 23 One of the factors in \/ 
the Thirty Years war was the conflict between the Catholic and 
the Lutheran descendants of Katarina. 

Another factor in John's reversal was that all hope of the 
Neapolitan legacy had evaporated. There never had been a live 
chance. Once before an observer had said, “Though the queen 
should become a nun and the king a Jesuit, they would never 
get a cent." 24 Still another point was that the relatively tractable 
Pope Gregory XIII was succeeded by the utterly intractable 
Sixtus V. 

When Katarina died in 1583 the Catholics desired to celebrate 
a Mass for her soul. John consented but did not attend. Sigis¬ 
mund attended. Presumably Anna did not. The widowed John, 
after two years, married a staunchly Lutheran girl of sixteen. 
The hope of the restoration of Catholicism in Sweden was defi¬ 
nitely gone. 

With the death of Batory the throne of Poland was again 
vacant. Anna, his widow, threw all of her influence in favor of 
her nephew and he was elected as Sigismund III. Mindful of his 
youthful oath never to receive .the sacrament at the hands of a 
heretic on pain of eternal damnation, he set himself to advance 
the Counter-Reformation. When his sister Anna came to visit 


Katarina Jagellonica 

him and began making converts to Lutheranism, he shipped her 
back to Sweden. In 1592 John died and then by dynastic succes¬ 
sion rather than election, Sigismund became the king also of 
Sweden. The dream of Kromer was fulfilled, the union of the 
two kingdoms under a king at once a scion of the Vasas and the 
Jagellons. But the other half of the dream that Sweden should 
be made Catholic wrecked the first half. Sigismund tried by force 
to Catholicize Sweden. His uncle Charles rose up against him to 
become Charles IX and he was the father of Gustavus Adolphus. 25 


1526 Birth of Katarina 
1560 Erik becomes king 
1562 John married to Katarina 
1566 Birth of Sigismund 

1568 John and Charles depose Erik 

1569 Coronation of John 

1572 Death of Pius V succeeded by Gregory XIII 
1575 Death of Sofia of Brunswick 
1577 Death of Erik XIV 
The new liturgy 

1580 Two hundred women storm a castle to release pastors 

1581 The Augsburg Confession in Swedish 

1582 Dispute with Poland over Narva 

1583 Death of Katarina 

1585 John marries Gunilla Bielke 

Death of Gregory XIII succeeded by Sixtus V 
1587 Sigismund III, king of Poland 
1592 Death of John 
1596 Deadi of Anna in Poland 
1600 Deposition of Sigismund in Sweden 


Katarina Jagellonica 


Portions of the Funeral Procession of John III 
Clergy to the left 


An excellent study of Swedish history in this period is diat of Michael 
Roberts, The Early Vasas . . . 7523-7677 (Cambridge, Eng., 1968). 

Swedish Church history for the reign of Gustavus Vasa is covered by 
Conrad Bergendoff, Olavus Petri . . . 7527-52 (New York, 1928). 

For die entire period see Hjalinar Holmquist, Svenska Kyrkans His- 
toria III (Stockholm, 1933). In two parts with separate pagination. 

A more detailed account of the period of John III is that of Augustin 
Thciner, La Suede et le Saint-Siege. ... 3 volumes, tr. Jean Cohen (Par¬ 
is 1842), rabidly Catholic, scrupulously accurate with a considerable 
appendix of documents in volume III. 

Extensive treatments are given in the works of three Finnish scholars: 
Henry Biaudet and his pupils, K. I. and Liisi Karttunen, all writing in 
French. Biaudet’s doctoral dissertation is entitled Le Saint Siege et la 
Suede . . . (Paris, 1906). Two volumes of supporting documents came 
out in different series. The first with die title of the dissertation ap¬ 
peared in Documents concernants Vhistoire des pays du Nord (Suomcn 
historiallelnen seura) (Helsingfors, Paris), 1, 1906. Summarizes docu¬ 
ments. Copy New York Public Library. The second volume with com¬ 
plete texts appeared in Ltudes Rornaines III (Geneva, 1912). Copies 
New York Public Library and University of Utah. K. I. Karttunen’s dis- 

Katarina Jagellonica 203 

sertation was Jean III et Stefan Batory (Helsinki, 1911). Liisi Kart- 
tunen published, Antonio Possevino (Lausanne, 1908). 

The above three scholars published a series of articles in Annates 
Academiae Scientiarum Fennicae, Ser. B, Volumes 1-2, 1909-11: Biaudet, 
“Les Nonciatures permanentes”; “Sixte-Quint et la Candidature de Sig- 
ismund de Suede. . . K. I. Karttunen, on “Alamanni,” Liisi Kart- 
tunen, “Gregoire XIII comme polititien. . . .” Volumes 5-6, 1912: Biau¬ 
det on “Brancaccio,” and K. 1 . Karttunen's thesis. Volumes 7-8, 1913: 
Biaudet, “Correspondence de . . . Zuniga,” “Jean III de SuMe et sa 
tour,” “Gustaf Erikson Vasa.” 

A number of documents are included in Joann Baazius, Inventarum 
Ecclesiae Sveo-Gothorum . . . (Link, 1642). Beinecke Library at Yale. 
Documents are summarized in Johannis Messenii Scondia Illnstrata 
(Stockholm, 1700). Yale Library. 

The correspondence of Cardinal Hosius is in Stanislaus Hosjusz, 
Opera Omnia (Koln, 1584), Beinecke Library, Yale. 

Kromer’s account of the captivity of John and Katarina is described 
by Claude Backvis, “Histoire Veredique de la piteuse aventure du due 
Jean de Finlande et la Princesse Catherine,” Revue des Etudes Slaves 
XXIX (1952), 16-23. The original Polish has been edited by Alexander 
Kraushar in Bibljoteka Pisarzow Polskich XX (1892) issued by the Pol¬ 
ska Akademia Krakow with the title “Historya prawdzwia o przgodzic 
zalosnej ksi^z^cia Finlandzkiego Jana i krolewny Katarzyny.” 

The work of Oskar Garstein, Rome and the Counter-Reformation in 
Scandinavia (Bergen, Norway, and Oxford Univ. Press), vol. 1, 1963), 
is a very detailed and thoroughly documented account of the efforts of 
Rome to reclaim Sweden. Vivid pictures are given of the labors of the 
Jesuit Swede Norvegus and the Legate Possevino. But since this little 
sketch centers on Katarina and the text must not be cluttered with 
names I have introduced only Hosius on the Roman side. 

The contribution of Katarina and John to Renaissance architecture 
in Sweden is covered by August Hahr, “Drottning Katarina Jagellonica” 
Kungl. Humanistiska Vetenskapssamfundet i Uppsala, Skrifter XXXIV, 
1 (1940). 

The Italian legacy of Queen Bona is described in detail by Klemens 
Kantecki, Die Neopolitanischen Summen (Posen, 1882), copy at Har¬ 

On the influence of Cassander see Paula Broder, Georg Cassanders 
Vermittlungsversuche zwichen Protestanten und Katholiken (Marburg, 
1931) and Maria Elisabeth Notte, Georgius Cassander en zijn Oecumen- 
iscii Streven (Nijmwegen, 1951). 


1. Biaudet, “Jean III et sa cour,” p. 23; Theincr II, 284, III, 387. 

2. Macrin Kromer, see bibliography. 

3. Roberts, pp. 246, 148, Biaudet, “Gustaf Erikson Vasa.” 


Katarina Jagellonica 

4. Hahr, see bibliography. 

5. Roberts, p. 274. 

6. Bergendoff, especially pp. 223, 235, 244, 249. 

7. Roberts, p. 275. 

8. Baazius III, vi, 331. 

9. First observed by Messenius, pp. 27, 47. 

10. Theiner II, 284. 

n. Ibid., p. 295. 

12. See Kentecki in Bona bibliography, Biaudet “Brancaccio,” and Kart- 
unen, “Gregorei XIII comme politien.” 

13. Hosius, Ofjera Omnia, Ep. 1777, also in Baazius III, 12. 

14. Theiner III, 78-79, and Garstein on Sigismund p. 193, on John 
P . 136. 

15. Theiner II, 114. 

16. Ibid., Ill, 91-101. 

17. Ibid., Ill, 387. 

18. Ibid., II, 76. 

19. Ibid., II, 76-78. 

20. Ibid., Ill, 181-2. 
si. See note 12. 

22. K. I. Karttunen, “Alamanni." 

23. Garstein, pp. 201, 209, 212, 239. 

24. Theiner II, 142. 

25. See Roberts. 


Maria of Hungary and Bohemia was a Hapsburg, the sister of 
the Emperor Charles V, of Ferdinand of Austria, Elizabeth (Isa¬ 
bel) of Denmark and Eleanore of Portugal. Born in 1505, Maria, 
while still in the cradle, was promised to the as yet unborn son 
(provided he turned out to be a he) of Wladislaw of Bohemia 
and Hungary. The babe proved to be Louis. The couple were 
publically betrothed when she was ten, crowned and married 
when she was seventeen. The young husband, after only four 
years of marriage, was lost in the battle with the Turks at Mohacs 
in 1526. With him the flower of the Hungarian nobility was 
wiped out. Maria remained for life a widow. 1 

On the death of her husband she received a letter of consola¬ 
tion from Martin Luther, who dedicated to her four of his ser¬ 
mons on the Psalms, saying that he had been moved so to do 
by the news of her inclination to the gospel. His thought ini¬ 
tially was to give her reason “to rejoice and be exceeding glad. 
But now that your land is ravaged and your husband fallen, I 
must write in another vein.” 2 

The rumor that she was inclined to the gospel was entirely 
correct. 3 A representative of Rome reported the rumor that the 
king and queen were Lutherans. The writer discounted the 
rumor though ready to admit that among the Germans at her 
court there might be some Lutherans. The queen favored them 
not as Lutherans but as Germans. He had talked with their 



Maria of Hungary and Bohemia 

Maria of Hungary 

Maria of Hungary and Bohemia 207 

majesties and found them sound in the faith and ready to investi¬ 
gate reports of deviance. Yet when the pope made an alliance 
with France against her brother the Emperor Charles, Maria said 
that if the pope so behaved she and all her court would be 
Lutherans. She had Lutheran ministers in her circle and inter¬ 
vened to save Lutherans from imprisonment and death. At the 
same time her brother Ferdinand and her husband Louis were 
issuing severe edicts against the Lutherans. She felt that she was 
being persecuted for her faith and composed a poem which has 
the ring of Luther’s Mighty Fortress. It is an acrostic. The first 
letters of the three stanzas combined form her name Maria. I 
have brashly attempted to reproduce the rhyme scheme, the 
meter and the sense. 

MAy I reverse not cast aside. 

The world cannot me abide 
Because of my believing. 

Full well I know 
God is my sword, 

And of my Lord 
None is me relieving. 

Maria and Louis II of Hungary 


Maria of Hungary and Bohemia 

But for a mite 
He holds his spite 
Till with a blow 
He lays them low, 

Who his word are stealing. 

Right well at hand my case I see. 

Know right well how weak I be. 

God lets me be affrighted. 

No force endures, 

For God insures 

That it shall be benighted. 

The good can’t fail. 

It makes me hale. 

Thereto I stand 
With life and land, 

For 1 shall be requited. 

As one and one must equal twice 
So sure is Jesus Christ. 

As it were yours, you take my woe, 

Nor will let go. 

Hold back the foe what’er betide. 

I cannot but essay this road, 

Support the load. 

World take the field. 

God is my shield. 

The field is ours. Be you defied. 

The authenticity of this poem has been impugned on the 
ground that it is in German whereas she normally wrote in 
French. 4 True, but sometimes also in German. We have the testi¬ 
mony of the margrave of Brandenburg that in 1529 she com¬ 
posed the poem to voice her dismay over the persecution inflicted 
by her brother. 5 

Erasmus likewise solaced the widow. 6 “War,” he began “is 
the greatest of all evils. For earthquakes, floods, lightning and 
plagues no one is responsible but what so atrocious as that man 
should immolate man! War carries off the youngest and the 

Maria of Hungaiy and Bohemia 


Hungary in Flames 

best. War makes widows, severing the most intimate of bonds. 
You are bereft of your Louis, young, generous, of noble lineage, 
endowed with all the qualities of a prince. You had only a few 
years together. You were not at hand to give the parting kiss. He 
has left you no child in whom to see his likeness. I will not offer 
you the consolations of the Stoics who believe not in the life to 
come. I will rather set before you an absorbing career. 

“Christ is the King of Kings to whom we must all give account. 
Women can lead as examples. I will not discuss the relative 
merits of virginity, widowhood and marriage. Each has its role. 
Let your court be marked by piety, simplicity and sobriety. Do 
your utmost to avoid war. Shun discourse with no one. Be ready 
to talk with heretics, Jews and Turks. Like St. Elizabeth, combine 
the dignity of a duchess with the piety of a nun. 

“I have already dedicated some of my works to members of 
your family: to your brother Charles the Emperor the tract on 
The Education of the Christian Prince; to your brother Ferdi¬ 
nand the Paraphrase of the Gospel of John; to your aunt Cath¬ 
erine of Aragon the Treatise on Matrimony. I received the sug- 


Maria of Hungary and Bohemia 

gestion of inscribing to you this delineation of the role of the 
Christian widow from that most excellent man, John Henkel, 
whose admirable zeal in proclaiming gospel truth is due to your 
benevolence. May the Lord bestow upon your highness every 
spiritual joy." 

The reference to Henckel 7 introduces us to the one who is 
credited with having turned Maria from the intransigeance oi 
Luther to the moderation of Erasmus. After 1525 her efforts 
were directed not to the propagation of Lutheranism but to the 
reconciliation of the parties. Henkel was a disciple of Erasmus 
and esteemed a letter from him to be of greater value than a 
bishopric. A man of great learning, he had no ambition for pre¬ 
ferment, and when Maria offered to make him a bishop, would 
have none of it. She pulled him away from his parish and tried 
to keep him constantly at court. Like Erasmus, he was averse to 
constraint in religion and deplored the persecution which Ferdi¬ 
nand visited upon all varieties of Protestants. Some were impris¬ 
oned, some beaten with rods in public squares, some banished, 
some burned. Henkel never identified himself with Luther, but 
like Erasmus, would never call him a heretic and would never 
discourage any from reading his books. 

The liberalism which Maria may well have imbibed from 
Henkel brought her into tension with her brothers. We have a 
fairly extensive correspondence with Ferdinand. Her tone is 
affectionate, at the same time firm in dissent from his policy in 
religion. 8 He remonstrated with her that Luther had dedicated 
to her his sermons on the Psalms. 

"I had nothing to do with that," she replied. "I can't stop him 
from dedicating to whom he pleases. I will not prejudice the 
reputation of our house." 

Ferdinand answered, "I know you can’t prevent Luther from 
dedicating books. I hope he won’t dedicate one to me, stuffed 
with praises that I accept the doctrine he calls the gospel. I hope 
you won’t read his damned books, nor let any of your circle 
have them. Scotch the rumor that you have Lutheran leanings. 
My dear sister, I hope you will forgive me. I must discharge my 

Maria of Hungary and Bohemia 211 

Maria replied, “With God’s help I intend to remain a good 
Christian. It is a long time since I have read Luther, and, in 
accord with your admonition, I will take care not to read him. 
If any one says that I am a Lutheran and not in accord with the 
ruling of the Church, I confess I did eat meat during Lent. That 
was to ward off an illness from which I am not yet fully recov¬ 
ered. The Father of Discord has been trying to alienate you and 
me. Do not believe malicious tongues. With God’s help I will be 
your loyal sister till death.” 

He answered, “I do not question that you are loyal and I will 
not let any one sow dissension.” 

But Ferdinand was no less minded to wipe out heresy. He 
expressed to his brother Charles the hope that peace with France 
would make possible a joint campaign to extirpate “the heresies 
arising from the Lutheran sect.” 9 By this phrase he meant the 
Zwinglians and the Anabaptists. Maria in May of 1528 10 re¬ 
ported to him that in her territory a preacher had come denounc¬ 
ing the holy sacrament and baptism (of infants). “I ordered him 
to leave and he did, but many had been seduced by his teaching. 
Therefore I sent a preacher, well versed in Scripture, to refute 
this teaching. I was told that this preacher was a Lutheran. But 
since he was opposed to this sect, I let him preach. He gave two 
sermons, one on the Eucharist and one on baptism. He refuted 
those who repeat baptism and refuse to take an oath. As for the 
chalice in the Eucharist, he quoted the words ‘Drink ye all of it' 
and said we must do what Christ enjoins. I do not want people 
with these opinions (that is the sectaries) at my court. I will con¬ 
fess to you, as to my confessor, that I read a tract of Luther 
against these people, though you told me not to read him at all. 
But since his tract is against them, I thought you would approve. 
I am sending it to you. What he says about baptism and the sac¬ 
rament of the altar is excellent. If I have displeased you I humbly 
beseech you to pardon me.” 

Ferdinand answered, 11 “You tell me you dismissed that 
preacher who rejected the sacrament of the altar and baptism. 
You should have punished him according to his deserts. You 
would then have deflated the suspicion that you are a Lutheran. 
As for your sending a Lutheran preacher to refute their errors. 

212 Maria of Hungary and Bohemia 

I will say that to close one wound you open three or four. If 
this gets to the ear of the emperor and other Christian princes, 
especially those who love our house, that you have a Lutheran 
court preacher, condemned not only by the emperor but by the 
pope and the Christian Church as a heretic, contravening the 
commands and edicts of the emperor, and you his sister who 
should obey and comply . . . imagine what a bad example you 
give! As for the articles he preaches, I am not competent to dis¬ 
cuss them. That's not my specialty. But it were better that he 
should not preach and you should not listen. As for that book, 
his errors are condemned as heretical and there are plenty of 
good books and good preachers without bringing in Lutherans. 
As a confessor I spare not the penitent. And besides, I do my 
duty as a good brother, concerned for your honor and the honor 
of our house." 

The next year Ferdinand wrote to her that she had given him 
to understand there were Anabaptists in Moravia. 12 

“I hope you will inform me more exactly," he wrote, “for you 
realize the evil that will ensue if these heresies invade. You have 
encouraged preaching against these damnable heresies. Very 
good. In the future suppress them utterly, for in my opinion 
these are the worst errors that ever were." 

She answered, 13 “You tell me to drive out one of their leaders. 
I have sent my chaplain to convert him. The man is so obdurate 
as to ask for nothing better than death. To tell you the truth, I 
would not advise you to touch his life, for these people go to 
martyrdom with great joy. You ask me to give you details about 
their assemblies. I think that as a woman I'd better not meddle 
in this. Others can inform you. In accord with your command I 
will not let the man preach. My own preacher is on leave. I hope 
that he will soon come back and that his ministry will bear fruit." 

The next year (1530) the Diet met at Augsburg in part to re¬ 
solve the religious difficulty. The Emperor Charles was in atten¬ 
dance. So also was his sister Maria. Luther could not come be¬ 
cause of the ban; Erasmus for some other reason. Melanchthon 
led the moderate Protestants. Among the Erasmian Catholics 

Maria of Hungary and Bohemia 213 

was John Henckel, who had never been expelled. He squelched 
the blustering truculence of the immoderate John Eck. 14 Maria, 
who had been commanded never even to read Luther, compiled 
a set of questions to be sent to him via Henkel and Melanchthon. 
In an accompanying note Melanchthon said that “the sister of 
the emperor, a woman of heroic mold, distinguished for piety 
and modesty, is trying to mollify her brother on our behalf but 
is constrained to make a modest and discreet approach/' 15 

One of the questions put to Luther was whether the Eucharist 
must invariably be received with the wine as well as the bread, 
or, in lands where only the bread was allowed, might one con¬ 
form in public and take the wine in a private celebration. Luther 
would have nothing half way. Either both or nothing save com¬ 
munion in the heart. 

The Augsburg Confession, composed by the moderating Me¬ 
lanchthon, was still too Protestant for the Catholics. The em¬ 
peror gave the Lutherans a year in which to submit. If they then 
refused, he would resort to war and would have done so had he 
not been involved in other wars for a quarter of a century. 

In the year after the diet (1531) the regent of the Netherlands 
died. She was Marguerite of Austria, the aunt of Charles, Ferdi¬ 
nand, Maria, Elizabeth and Eleanor. A new appointment was 
needed. Charles turned to Maria and wrote: 16 

My dear sister: I am sure I do not need to inform you of 
the death of our aunt who was to me as a mother. This is 
a double blow because of the vacancy in the regency of the 
Netherlands. I know of no one more competent to replace 
her than yourself. If I had known that her death was immi¬ 
nent I would have broached the matter to you while we were 
both at Augsburg. I hope you can be ready to leave as 
speedily as possible. On the matter of marriage you will not 
be pressed. Now as to the rectitude of your faith. I have no 
misgiving. Otherwise I would not have asked you. But some 
of your household may be suspect. I must tell you that, 
whereas some laxity may be allowed in Germany, it is not so 
in the Netherlands. [Charles was quite right on that point. 
In the Netherlands he had first been able to enforce the edict 

214 Maria of Hungary and Bohemia 

of Worms against the Lutherans because in this region he 
was the local ruler by hereditary right and was not encum¬ 
bered by such another as Frederick the Wise. The first Lu¬ 
theran martyrdoms took place in the Netherlands.] It were 
better not to bring with you any of your household, and for 
the additional reason that the Netherlanders do not like for¬ 
eigners. Rebuild your staff from natives. 

Maria was not at all happy over this proposal. She had made 
that quite clear earlier when Ferdinand had sounded her feel¬ 
ing. 17 Her health was precarious and she had no enthusiasm for 
the draconian program of her brother. Her feeling was like that 
of Erasmus, who left the Netherlands rather than be turned into 
a butcher. But Erasmus was only a councillor of the emperor. 
She was his sister and obligated to assume the offices of the state. 
She consented out of loyalty to her brother. 

For nearly twenty-five years she was the regent in the Nether¬ 
lands. Repeated edicts against the Lutherans were issued with 
increasing severity. She signed them, for she regarded the “here¬ 
tics” as rebels, though deserving of compassion. She would miti¬ 
gate sentences and connive at escapes. 18 The liberal Cardinal 
Marone said in 1539 that she was a “most obstinate woman who, 
out of her own head, showed leniency toward Lutherans.” 19 She 
was spared compliance with the rigors of the Spanish Inquisi¬ 
tion, introduced by her nephew Philip II, for on the abdication 
of Charles in 1555, she accompanied him to Spain and there died 
in 1558. Her suffering for the faith was not that of the thumb¬ 
screw and the stake, but the anguish of the tortured heart, seek¬ 
ing to emulate the mercy of God and sustain the rule of his 
servants of the house of Hapsburg. 


1. Biographical sketches in the AUgemeine Deutsche Biographie . Georg 
Loesche, “Die evangelischen Fiirstinnen im Hause Habsburg," Jahr- 
buch der Gesellschaft fur Geschichte des Protestantismus in Oester- 
reich XV (1904), 5-21. 

George Heiss, “Politik und Ratgeber Maria von Ungarn in den 
Jahren 1521-31,” Mittheilungen des Instituts fur Oestreich . Ge- 
sch ich tsforschung, LXXXII (1874), 119-180. 

Maria of Hungary and Bohemia 


2. IVeimare Ausgabe XIX, p. 542 ff. 

3. Wilhelm Stracke, Die Anftinge der Konigin Maria von Ungarn 
spdteren Stadthalterin Karls V. in den Niederlanden (Gottingen, 
1940). Citing Monumenta Vaticana Hungariae II,1 (Budapest, 1884), 
pp. 23, 28, 133, 139, 159, 160. 

4. “Die Korrespondenz Ferdinands I,” ed. Wilhelm Bauer und Robert 
Lacroix, 2 vols. (Vienna, 1897-8), Verbffentlichungen der Kommis- 
sion fur neuere Geschichte Oesterreichs. Letter no. 13. 

5. The text, discussion and the letter of the margrave in Theodor 
Kolde, “Margraf Georg von Brandenburg und das Glaubenslied 
der Konigen Maria von Ungarn,” Beitrdge zur bayerischen Kirchen - 
geschichte, II (1896), 62-89. 

6. Opera Omnia (Lug. 1704), V, 723-766. 

7. Georg Bauch, “Dr. Johann Henckel der Hofprediger der Konigen 
Maria von Ungarn,” Ungarische Revue (1884), 599-627. 

8. Op. cit. note 4 supra, nos. 44, 45, 49, 54, 55. 

9. Ibid., No. 131. 

10. Ibid., No. 183. 

11. Ibid., No. 207. 

12. Ibid., No. 298. 

13. Ibid., No. 302. 

14. Erasmi Epistolae IX, No. 2392, p. 58. 

15. Melanchthon, Corp. Ref. II, No. 770, p. 178. No. 808, p. 233. 

16. Correspondenz des Kaisers Karl V, ed. Karl Lanz, (Leipzig, 1894). 
Bd. 1, No. 156. 

17. Note 5 above, No. 154, p. 190. 

18. See Loesche, note 1 above. 

19. Erich Roth, Die Reformation in Siebenburgen (1962), p. 12, note 12. 
Die Konigen, eine donna obstitanissima et di suo cervello begiin- 
stige die Lutherana. 


Queen Isabella and her signature 



Isabella Zapolya was the firstborn of Bona Sforza and Sigis- 
mund Stary and the sister of Katarina of Sweden, Sophia of 
Brunswick, Anna of Poland and Sigismund Augustus. Of her 
early life I have been able to find only what can be inferred 
from her accomplishments and behavior. She certainly learned 
Polish from her father, Italian from her mother and Latin from 
her tutors. She loved the chase, the dance and gorgeous festivi¬ 
ties with opulent display. One early historian called her disso¬ 
lute, another sagacious and one who knew her said she was diffi¬ 
cult unless one humored her whims. 1 

At the age of twenty she was married to John Zapolya, con¬ 
nected by family but not by blood. His sister had been her fa¬ 
ther's first wife; that is Barbara Zapolya had been the first queen 
of Sigismund Stary. John Zapolya, at the time of the marriage 
with Isabella, was fifty-two and disinclined to wed until a fellow 
Pannonian insisted that the perpetuation of the precious gem 
of his blood would cast glory on their land. 2 A few years earlier 
Bona and Sigismund would scarcely have considered the alliance 
prestigious because John was virtually in exile. He had been the 
voivode or lieutenant of Transylvania under Louis II of Hun¬ 
gary. When the king fell in flight from the battle of Mohacs in 
1526, two claimants contested the succession. The one was Ferdi¬ 
nand in the name of his widowed sister, Maria. The other was 
Zapolya with the support of the Transylvanians, or Siebenbiirg- 

218 Isabella Zapolya 

ers, as they were called. War followed. Zapolya, defeated, fled to 
Poland. This was in 1529. 

Here he fell in with an astute diplomat, the monk Martinuzzi, 
who maneuvered to replace him on the throne. A decade of strife 
issued in the treaty of Varda (1539) whereby the land was di¬ 
vided. The western section went to Ferdinand as King of Hun¬ 
gary, the eastern to Zapolya as King of Transylvania, and the 
middle to the Sultan. A clause stipulated that should Zapolya die 
without issue his portion should revert to Ferdinand. If he did 
have issue, the son should be only the voivode of Transylvania. 
Now that Zapolya was king, the marriage would appear advan¬ 
tageous to Bona and Sigismund Stary, the more so because 
Transylvania was a buffer between Christendom and Islam, and 
besides there was the possibility that the Hapsburgs might be 
ousted. We recall the rage of Bona when Sigismund Augustus 
married Barbara Radziwill and thwarted the scheme to unite 
him with Anna of Ferrara, the granddaughter of a king of 
France, which might then be inclined to induce the Sultan to 
place her daughter on the throne of Hungary. 

The treaty of Varda was upset when Isabella, at the end of a 
year of marriage, gave birth in 1540 to a son, named Sigismund 
for his grandfather and uncle. On the arrival of an heir, Zapolya, 
with only a month to live, repudiated the treaty and demanded 
that his son inherit his title. When the father died, Isabella took 
up the campaign for the infant. 

She received from her parents condolence with hints of inter¬ 
vention. The father wrote, 3 

Serenissima Princeps, Alia nostra charissima: Right hearty 
thanks for informing us of the birth of your son. But this 
news is tinged with sadness as we learn of the death of your 
Majesty's Serene husband. Do not allow yourself to be 
crushed by grief. The course of prudence is that reason 
should rule the emotions. It becomes a prince to bear with 
composure that which cannot be altered. To succumb to 
immoderate weeping is to contest the will of God, whose 
judgments are a great abyss. Our hope and confidence lie in 
his unfailing mercy. He will assuredly not desert you and 

Isabella Zapolya 


fticr nx»f)«fFnc(c ®fii' 

uetveme b« ftatKti IJfaklla JKonigmSmb 
twcggtfrtffcnt toitcif* m 2)ngrni4W 
trctt>f!c6 kr SCtircfkibbrc tren 

Qieanber/dncts f« tit berbdegerira^ kj> 

bet j&fmgin im &d)lopgcwe(i/wie e$ mit (Ofett/ 
vot vtt m<A) bet bdegcttwgergattgcit ♦ 

Qt< bricK/emca 3)ngem fan ©mu/ 

»ie « ye% 511 <Dfen$ugefye* 

©i« ketbte/ke Stucfifckn 

nett (Wbic@i' 6 cnb 4 irgcr * 

2 lu$ bent fZatdtt im 
'ZTcutfcb gcbiadbt. 

A Tract by Isabella Zapolya against the perfidy of the Turks 

220 Isabella Zapolya 

your sorrow shall be crowned with joy. The lot of man is 
that sorrow be mingled with joy as joy with sorrow. The 
Fount of all goodness, in taking your husband, has given you 
the loveliest son that in fondling and kissing you may alle¬ 
viate your grief. In place of a father the infant has a grand¬ 
father. Consult us in all arrangements. From Wilna, 15 
August, 1540. 

Bona wrote a month later: 4 

Forgive us that we have been so long in writing. We could 
not find a suitable courier. Suffer not yourself to be mired 
in grief. After the sorrow of the night comes the joy of the 
morning. Your parents are ever ready to stand by. 1 Oc¬ 
tober, 1540. 

Ferdinand protested against the disavowal of the treaty of 
Varda and laid siege (1541) to the city of Olah where Isabella 
was in residence in the castle. Three contemporary tracts (pub¬ 
lished in 1542) related the event: 5 

The first is a preface exhorting Christians, since the arm of 
man has failed, to invoke divine aid to overcome the Turkish 
tyrant, whose perfidy is so manifest that Christians should never 
again invite the Turk to repel the Germans. Let all Christians 
rather unite against the foe. 

Next comes a page from the pen of Isabella deploring Turkish 
deception, but rejoicing to learn that the Siebenbiirgers have 
elected her son as the King of Transylvania. 

Third, we have an eyewitness account of the siege and nego¬ 
tiations. Here is a condensation. 

“We are sorry not to have communicated sooner but the bearer 
of a letter was in danger of losing a head. The anxiety and ex¬ 
tremity of this siege defy imagination. One did not dare to ven¬ 
ture out for a drink, let alone for provender. The wall was sev¬ 
eral times breached, but the foe repulsed. Tunneling under the 
walls was intercepted. Our men were so emboldened as to make 
a sortie and smite the foe beyond the walls. The Germans built 
a bridge across the Danube but the wind cast it down. At that 
moment Mohamet Bez Bassa arrived and the Turks lifted the 

s^JtijL oip ipiM apieg y 



?<? tt^«S££*QriH 

ini ‘uaButffigne (pipup^a qtict 

uijQ jquitg uct 

/mp,02 qua/uajoCj&iiwjp uwq uoa <ptt«vB«c| 

9$/ ujQ.oot jji j(pvwiS qtia/?(j^pJ>fi4uti{j^o0 

/Jehjae^k j3qji|5)juny qua uqja -r 

sipjatif iioa^SutiM^aai^^j! 

BKJ-;: .'•■’• .., V eft 

l So 

vfyotfvz ^ll^qvsj 

Isabella Zapolya 

siege. They lauded our steadfastness. The queen and her council¬ 
lors were given some of the cattle plundered along the way. Suf¬ 
ficient food was supplied. We went into the Turkish camp and 
were received with friendliness. 

“Shortly the Turks brought their armada up the river. Three 
thousand Czechs and two thousand Germans were slaughtered. 
(Are these figures reliable?) Six hundred were held as captives, 
some of whom Isabella ransomed. Part of the German force, 
abandoning their armaments, marched off in formation with 
flags flying. 

“Presents were sent after a week to the young king, four gold 
necklaces, three Turkish horses, splendidly caparisoned, their 
saddles studded with gold. The queen’s councillors received 
robes. The Sultan sent word to her that he wished to see her son. 
She was frightened and suggested to her advisers that she go 
alone with presents or, if this would not do, that she take the 
boy. They told her to comply. The lad was taken by a nurse and 
two old women in a chariot of gold preceded by councillors. 
The Sultan sent courtiers to meet and greet them. They were 
conducted to a tent alongside of his, and two marshals entered 
with silver scepters. The child began to cry and the nurse held 
him. Then the councillors were taken to another tent to confer 
with the Sultan, and what it was all about I do not know. 

“The Sultan announced that he would keep Ofen. Our leaders 
were appalled but dared not speak. The mayor of Ofen was 
called in and heard the news in silence. The Janissaries then 
marched into the city. This move had evidently been planned, 
for they could not have made an impromptu entry. Next came 
dinner. The prince was placed between the nurse and the two 
women. I sat opposite. We were made to eat sitting on the 
ground which we took to be a great insult. A marshal then in¬ 
formed us the child might be returned. It was night and we were 
conducted by torches. We did not think it proper to present the 
Turks to the queen by night and dismissed them. A number of 
the councillors were retained to discuss whether the queen and 
prince should be taken to Constantinople or be left with the 
councillors. The latter was decided, thank God. The queen 
thanked the Sultan for returning her son, begged to be taken 

Isabella Zapolya 223 

under his protection, promised not to remarry and sent a present 
to his daughter. He promised to do his best for her. 

“The Janissaries commanded the keeper of the castle to turn 
over the keys. He went in tears to the queen who told him to do 
what he was told. The prisons were opened and the inmates sent 
to the Sultan. This proved that Turks were not being held cap¬ 
tive. Plundering began in the city. The queen was told not to 
fear. She should have Siebenbiirgen and the land beyond up to 
the Teyss. Then, on the pretext that this area was rebellious, the 
promise was cancelled. Piesents were sent to the queen and 
prince, and horses promised for their return, but she had to buy 
oxen out of her own funds. The Turks went into the church 
of Our Lady and gave thanks to their god for the victory. The 
queen wept. An escort of Janissaries with 150 horses guarded our 
journey. We slept in tents. The queen had to take orders from 
the Sultan. The weather was wet. A number died of the pesti¬ 
lence. All this we had to endure in addition to the siege. God 
visited this upon us for our sins. May his name be praised, for 
we hope that by his grace he will comfort us with his mercy.” 

Isabella ruled as queen regent only in Transylvania for the 
decade of 1541-1551. She was aided, or rather manipulated, in 
the administration both at home and abroad by her prime min¬ 
ister so to speak, that monk who had once helped her husband, 
Martinuzzi. 6 He was a statesman of real calibre, who envisioned 
the reintegration of all Hungary. This would require, to begin 
with, the unification of Transylvania itself. Here, too, there were 
three sections: the Saxons who spoke Gennan; the Szeklers, a 
Magyar stock who entered the land prior to the Hungarians and 
the magnates, or nobles, mostly Hungarian. 

The divisions were intensified by religion, seeing that the Sax¬ 
ons became at first Lutheran, the Hungarians Calvinist and the 
Szeklers remained Catholic. If all these could act as a unit the 
more difficult problem could be faced of harmonizing Isabella, 
Ferdinand and Suleiman. This was a slippery undertaking be¬ 
cause no one trusted anyone. A contemporary remarked that 
princes did not believe the oaths of neighbors and allies. If a 
concession were made to one, the others suspected treachery. 


Isabella Zapolya 




The Coat of Arms of John and Isabella Zapolya on the Tide Page of 
a work of Augustine edited by the humanist scholar and Lutheran 
minister, Johannes Honterus. 

Isabella Zapolya 225 

Martinuzzi, acting for Isabella, yielded so much to Ferdinand 
that he had him made a cardinal. Isabella was not pleased. To 
the Turk Martinuzzi yielded Buda. Ferdinand was not pleased. 
He did, indeed, grasp the grand plan and saw the need for con¬ 
cessions, but at the same time instructed his general to have an 
eyfe open for any double dealing, and, if need be, to have re¬ 
course to the ultimate remedy. The general, who did not grasp 
the grand plan, disposed of Martinuzzi by assassination. That 
marked the end of the effort to reunite Hungary. Ferdinand then 
resolved to unite all not in the hands of the Turk. He fell upon 
Isabella and drove her and her son again to Poland. 

The next four years (1551-1555) were spent bickering. 7 Ferdi¬ 
nand had granted her by way of indemnity the assurance of 
maintenance. She complained that the castle where she lodged 
was dilapidated. The meadows had no cattle large or small. The 
fish pond had been broken and drained. With her own funds 
and the bounty of her mother she had purchased seed grain, beds, 
tables, chairs and kitchen utensils. From all taxes, tributes and 
military obligations she should be free. An understanding was 
reached in 1553 and Ferdinand's daughter was betrothed to 
young Sigismund. But Isabella still had her eye on Siebenburgen 
and both she and Ferdinand were in touch with the Porte. Their 
embassies encountered each other in Constantinople and her 
envoy indiscreetly let Ferdinand's ambassador know that Isabella 
was beseeching Suleiman on her metaphorical knees to deliver 
her from Ferdinand. There was even a rumor that he was plot¬ 
ting to assassinate her son. We do not know whether she believed 
it, but she would scarcely have found it incredible in view of the 
fate of Martinuzzi. In any case Ferdinand let her know he would 
send her no more money unless she renounced all claim to Sie¬ 
benburgen, and she answered she would not renounce all claim 
to Siebenburgen unless he sent the money. At that juncture word 
came that France would give her support and Suleiman promised 
that if she and her son would return he would restore everything 
captured since the death of her husband. The Siebenbtirgers 
were prompted to issue an invitation. Isabella and her son re¬ 
entered on 22 October, 1556. Transylvania was now a separate 

226 Isabella Zapolya 

country. Isabella continued as queen dowager until her death in 
1559 and her son as king until his death in 1571. 

The prevailingly political history thus far given prompts a 
question why Isabella should have been included among women 
in active religious roles. But she did have convictions and feel¬ 
ings. She wept over the desecration of the church of Our Lady. 
As a queen she could not avoid religious issues. We have men¬ 
tioned that the three sections of the land were characterized by 
three varieties of religion. The Saxons were Lutheran. The Hun¬ 
garians turned to Calvin quite possibly because he was not Ger¬ 
man, and the Szeklers in their villages were addicted to the tra¬ 
ditional Catholicism. The answer to such diversity was religious 
liberty. Isabella, whatever her convictions, may have been the 
readier to refrain from persecution because of the Polish parallel. 
But the decisive factor was the Turk, who looked upon all Chris¬ 
tians as unbelievers and tolerated all indiscriminately, lest a trib¬ 
utary state be unable to pay tribute because rent by wars of reli¬ 
gion. In any case, Isabella is the first ruler to issue an edict of 
universal toleration. The state would not impose a creed. The 
sects must not molest each other. This meant that the Protestants 
could not expropriate the goods of the Catholics. The edict reads: 

In as much as we and our most Serene Son have graciously 
consented to the urgent petition of the Lords of the realm 
that each observe the faith of his preference with new or 
ancient ceremonies, permitting freedom of choice to each 
according to preference, provided no harm be done to any, 
that neither the followers of the new religion are to do 
despite to the old, nor are the old in any way to injure the 
followers of the new, therefore the Lords of the realm, in 
order to promote concord among the churches and to dispel 
the controversies occasioned by the rise of the evangelical 
doctrine, have decreed the calling of a national council 
where devout ministers of God and other eminent members 
of the nobility may engage in discussion of sincere doctrine 
that under God dissensions and diversities of religion may 
be overcome. 8 

Such a proclamation not only recognized what had already 

Isabella Zapolya 227 

happened but opened the way for more. Unitarianism was to be¬ 
come the prevailing religion of the land. Isabella certainly 
did not foster this, but unwittingly contributed by favor shown 
to the men who started the trend. They were two Italian doc¬ 
tors. Blandrata was a specialist in female diseases who had been 
the physician to Bona Sforza, then to Isabella and finally to her 
son. Blandrata’s views on the Trinity were tentative and mild. 
He would not go beyond the source of Christian doctrine, the 
New Testament itself. And here he did not find the terminology 
of the Nicene creed which reluctantly employed non-scriptural 
terminology in order to exclude the opinions of the Arians who 
would accept Scripture interpreted in their own way. Blandrata 
was influenced also by the scholastic disputations which had 
revolted Michael Servetus burned at Geneva for his denial of 
the orthodox Trinitarian formulation. 

The other Italian doctor was Stancaro, whom Isabella highly 
commended when he made a trip to Poland. This did not mean 
an endorsement of his views which at that time had not yet 
been formulated. He began to be perplexed to see how Christ 
as God could act as a mediator between man and God, and 
arrived at the conclusion that he had done so only in his human 
nature. Was then the human nature placating the divine nature? 
The simplest solution was to deny that Christ was God. This 
step was taken by the Hungarian D£vai, who abandoned the 
worship of Christ. These deviators from orthodoxy had the sup¬ 
port of Sigismund Zapolya. The son of Isabella was the only 
^/Unitarian king in history. 



Guide to Hungarian Studies, vol. 1 (Stanford, Cal., 1973). 

General Histories of Transylvania: 

Bethlen, Wolffgangi de, Historia de Rebus Transylvaniis, 2d. ed. 
Tome 1 (1782). 

Forgacs, Ferenz, Rerum Hungaricarium—Commentarii, (1788). 

Makkai, Ladislas, Histoire de Transylvanie (Paris, 1946). 


Isabella Zapolya 

The Religious Situation: 

Bucsay, Mihaly, Geschichte des Protestantismus in Ungarn (Stuttgart, 

1 959)* compact. 

Kalman, Benda, “La Reforme en Hongrie,” Bulletin de la Soci^te de 
VHistoire du Protestantisme Frangais CXXII (1976), pp. 1-53. He 
explains the varieties of Protestantism and the shifts in the several 
sections in terms of the economic and social situations. 

Lampe, Adolf, Historia Ecclesiae Reformatae in Hungaria et Transyl¬ 
vania (1728). 

Pirnat, Antal, “Die Ideologic der Siebenburger Antitrinitarier in 
den i57oen Jahren,” Ungarische Akademie der Wissenschaften 
(> 9 6 ')- 

Roth, Erick, Die Reformation in Siebenbi'irgen (1962). 

St. Ivanyi, (In Hungarian St. stands for Szent), Alexander, Freedom 
Legislation in Hungary, 7557-/57/ (New York, 1957). 

Teutsch, Friedrich, Geschichte der ev. Kirche in Siebenbiirgen, vol. 1 

(> 92 >)- 

Wilbur, E. Morse, A History of Unitarianism, vol. II (Cambridge, 
Mass.) (1952). 

Williams, George H., The Radical Reformation (Philadelphia, 1962). 

Wittstock, Oskar, Johannes Honterus (Gottingen, 1970). 


Veress, Endre, (Veress is the family name) Izabella Kiralyne (Buda¬ 
pest, 1901). (Borrowed from the Harvard Library.) The work is in 
Hungarian which I do not read. There is an epitome of the work 
by A. Veress, Isabella regina d’Ungheria (Rome, 1903), of which my 
friend Prof. Lamberti Borghi has sent me a xerox. From the Hun¬ 
garian I have taken several illustrations. The tracts entitled Vier 
warhafftige Missiven (1542), contain one by her and the rest about 
her. Copy in the Beinecke Library of Yale University. 

The Turks: 

Hammer,, Histoire de VEmpire Ottoman (Paris, 1896), trans¬ 
lated from German. 

Merriman, Roger Bigelow, Suleiman the Magnificant 1520-1566 (Cam¬ 
bridge, Mass., 1944). 

Savage, J., The Turkish History (1704). 

Wagner, Georg, Das Tiirkenjahr 1664 (Eisenstadt, 1964). 

Wrancius, Antonius, Expeditionis Solymani in Moldavium et Tran - 
sylcanium Libri Duo (Budapest, 1944). 

The Beinecke Library has five boxes of tracts on the Turkish threat 
in the sixteenth century. They are itemized in the shelf list. 

Isabella Zapolya 229 


1. Forgacs, p. 208, Bethlen, p. 288, Makkai, p. 134. 

2. Bethlen, p. 275. 

3. Bethlen, pp. 334-47. 

4. Bethlen, pp. 350-52. 

5. Vier warhrafftige. See bibliography and illustration. 

6. Opinion differs as to whether Martinuzzi was a statesman or a scamp. 

Makkai regards him as the former and his reason seems plausible. 

7. Huber. 

8. St. Ivanyi. Latin text in the appendix. 

JILa m 


The women chosen to represent Hungary and Transylvania 
were not natives. Maria was Spanish and German. Isabella was 
Polish and Italian. A Hungarian friend has given me the names 
of several native women influential in the reform. Unhappily 
the books! even if accessible in this country, are in Hungarian, 
which to my chagrin I cannot read. I could, of course, enlist 
friends to translate, but luckily the account of one woman is in 
Latin, and for that reason she is my choice. Her distinction lies 
in what she did on behalf of Stephen Szegedi, one of the most 
outstanding Hungarian reformers. He was well versed in Renais¬ 
sance scholarship as well as in Catholic and Protestant theology. 
While a Catholic he studied at Vienna. Later he was three years 
at the University of Wittenberg under the tutelage of Luther 
and Melanchthon. Szegedi's spiritual pilgrimage passed through 
Catholicism, Lutheranism, Zwinglianism, to Calvinism. He did 
not take the further road to Unitarianism. 

In the early years of his evangelizing in Hungarian territory 
he suffered imprisonment and banishment but invariably re¬ 
entered the field. Ordinarily he combined preaching and teach¬ 
ing. Severe trouble overtook him in 1562 because the town in 
which he was located was dilatory in paying tribute to the Turk. 
The voivode reported the delinquency to his superior, Mamhut 
Begus, who sent in Turkish troops and arrested two of the lead¬ 
ing citizens as hostages, of whom one was Szegedi. He was very 


Helena Mezeo 

Stephen Szegedi 

much more of a leading citizen than the Turk ever suspected. 
As a teacher and preacher he was held in high esteem by all the 
populace and the notables, doubly so because his tone toward 
the Catholics was irenic. 

Protest from all classes came to the ear of Begus, who inferred 
that Szegedi was of such prominence that he could be held for a 
superlative ransom. The sum of a thousand florins was suggested. 


Helena Mezeo 

The economic reason for detention was strengthened by the suspi¬ 
cion that, in evangelizing beyond his bailiwick, Szegedi was ac¬ 
tually engaged in political machinations. In all of this running 
around what was he up to? Torture was used to find out. He was 
kept in the vilest squalor and suspended till scarcely alive. A 
visitor saw his shirt blood soaked. Visitors were permitted, per¬ 
haps because the money they left for him was confiscated. 

Turks taking Christians captive 

His supporters suggested that he be exchanged for a prisoner 
held by the Hungarians, the daughter of a high Turkish official. 
Begus replied that he could not be sure they would deliver the 
right girl. An ardent Muslim came to convert Szegedi, and, if I 

Helena Mezeo 


correctly understand the passage, the suggestion was made that 
release might be granted if he were to translate the Koran into 

Now we come to Helena, the wife of Firenc Mezeo, a peasant 
farmer. She suggested to her husband that he go to Vienna and 
try to persuade the Turkish emissary there resident to use his 
influence for the release. He proved to be like Pilate, who de¬ 
sired to release Jesus and like Claudius Lysias, who would have 
liberated Paul. The Turk would try. 

Now Helena, following childbirth, was smitted by a lethal 
disease. Dying, she laid it upon her husband to exert every nerve 
to free Szegedi. In tears he swore. But when his concern was laid 
before a church assembly he was told to wait until the Lord 
opened a more seasonable opportunity. Word of the renewed 
clamor reached the ear of Begus, perhaps through the Pontius 
Pilate in Vienna. When the Begus became aware that the insti¬ 
gator of the fresh agitation was a mere peasant, all suspicion of 
espionage was at once dispelled. “A peasant!'’ ejaculated Begus. 
“Then he can be trusted.” But the Turk was of no mind to re¬ 
nounce the ransom which was eventually raised to 1200 florins. 
Then he who had sworn to a dying wife raised the sum. From 
France and Germany breastplates, helmets and corselets were im¬ 
ported for payment in kind. “Thus,” records the chronicler, 
“this peasant, moved by the immeasurable liberality of Christ, 
was able to achieve the goal.” A mighty concourse greeted the 
return, having prearranged that Szegedi should be a witness at 
the wedding of his eldest daughter. 


Summarized from Stephani Szegedini Vita Avctore Matthaeo Scaricaeo 
Pannonio, which is prefaced to the Theologiae Sincerae Loci Com¬ 
munes (Basel, 1599). In the Beinecke Library of Yale University. 

J/L tra lions 


14 Torquemada’s Instructions to the Inquisition from S. G. Pozh- 
niskii, lstoria Inkvizitsii, 1914 (in Russian). 

19 Der neti Leyen spiegel, 1508 Beinecke Rare Book and Manu¬ 
script library, Yale University. 

24 The celestial ladder of John Climacus, drawn for greater clarity 
from the photographic reproduction in John Rupert Martin, 
Illustration of the Heavenly Ladder of John Climacus (Prince¬ 
ton University, 1954) pi. XV. 

38 Torture by water and the wheel from pp. 54 and 580 in die 
Russian work cited above for p. 14. 

44 Procession of the Inquisition from Bernard Picart, The Reli¬ 
gious Ceremonies and Customs of the Several Nations (London, 
1731), facing p. 238. Beinecke Library of Yale University. 

74 Cartoon against Knox and Goodman from Peter Frarin, An Ora¬ 
tion Against the Unlawful Insurrections of the Protestantes, 
(Antwerp, 1562), Short Title Catalog no. 11333. 

90 Anne Locke's translation, entitled Sermons of John Calvin that 
Ezechias made . . . 1560. Short Title Catalog 4450. 

96 Philip Stubbes, A Cristall Glasse for Christian Women, 1608. 
Short Title Catalog 23381. 

106 Lady Hoby by Holbein, Royal Library Windsor Castle, by 
permission of her Majesty the Queen. 

108 Caspar Schwenckfeld, Ayn kurtze gruntliche Anweisung zum 
rechten verstand des Herzen Abentmals . . . 1557. Corpus 
Schwenckfeldianorum XV, no. 1021, p. 370. 

118 Christian III and Queen Dorothea from G. J0rgensen, Refor- 
mationen i Denmark (Copenhagen, 1919), p. 225, pi. 31. 

120 Handwriting of Queen Dorothea. Ellen Jorgensen og Johanne 
Skovgaard, Danske Dronninger, p. 101. 

124- Birgitte Gj0e and the arms and bookplate of Herluf Trolle 

127 from Briand de Cr£vecoeur, Herluf Trolle (1959), pi. 2 and 4. 

132 Witch riding on a goat and the witches' sabbath from the mod¬ 

ern edition of Francesco Guazzo, Compendium Maleficarum 
(London, 1925), pp. 33 and 22. 

134 Bona Sforza at the time of her marriage, from Francesco Mala- 
guzzi-Valeri, La Corte di Ludovico il Moro (Milan, 4 vols., 913- 
23) IV, p. 400. 




138 Sigismund I from Marcin Kromer, De Origine et rebus gestis 
Polonorum (Basel, 1555), p. 184. Beinecke Rare Book and Manu¬ 
script library, Yale University. 

142 Miniature from the Prayer Book of Queen Bona with permis¬ 
sion from the Bodleian Library. 

144 Budny's translation of the Bible into Polish from Henryk Bieg- 
eleisen, Illustrowane dzieje literatury polskiej (Wieden, 1898) 
III, p. 184. 

147 Sigismund Augustus, same source as for Sigismund I. 

148 Barbara Radziwill. Michal Balinsky, Pisma Historyczne (War¬ 
saw, 1843), borrowed from the University of Washington library. 

152 Queen Bona widowed, from Eugeniusz Golebiowski, Zygmunt 
August (Warsaw, 1962). The author says that the painting was 
done in 1530, but the medal calls her a widow which she be¬ 
came in 1548. 

161 The Crab on the device of Gnoinskiej from Franciszek, Pieke- 
sinski, Heraldyka Polska (Krak6w, 1899), P* 17 1 * 

166 From Stanistaw Cynarskiego ed. Rakow Ognisko Arianizmu 
(Krakow, 1968), p. 176, redrawn with omission of some details. 

170 Zofia Olneska, Biegeleisen, Opus, cit., p. 222, pi. 88. 

171 Home teaching in prayer, from Biegeleisen, opus cit., p. 220. 
Hymn singing in the home, from Lissa Zofia, Muzyka polsiego 
Odrocizenia (Warsaw, 1953). 

172 Musical setting from K.WT. Koicicki, Biblioteka Starozytnych 
polskich, I Wyd. (Krakdw, 1854), pp. 9 fF. Harvard Library. 

182 Katarina Jagellonica. Courtesy of the National Museum, Niirn- 

190 “Communion in Both Kinds in 1548/' From the Handbook. 
From Hjalmar Holmquist, Svenska Kyrkans Historia. Pt. I, p. 
427. Svenska Kyrkans Diakonistyrelses Bokforlag, Stockholm. 
1933 - 

193 “The Augsburg Confession in Swedish in 1566 with the Swedish 
coat of arms and a dedication to King John’s sister, the Princess 
Elizabeth.” Ibid., Pt. II, p. 109. 

202 Portions of the Funeral Procession of John III Clergy to the 
left. From Emil Hildebrand, Sveriges Historia V, pp. 236-7. 
P. A. Nostedt 8c Somers Forlag, Stockholm, 1923. 

206 Maria of Hungary. Courtesy Szepmuveszeti Museum, Budapest. 
Description in A. Pilger, Katalog der Galerie alter Meister 
(Budapest, 1967), p. 434. 

207 Maria and Louis II of Hungary from Georg Hirth, Bilder aus 
der Lutherzeit (Munchen, 1883), pi. 485-6. 


209 Hungary in Flames from Ferenc Forgacs, Francisci Forgachii, 
Rerum Hvngaricarvm Commentarii (1783). Yale library. 

216 Isabella Zapolya from title page of Varess, Entire, Izabella. 

219 Vier warhafftige Missuen (1542), Beinecke Library of Yale Uni¬ 


221 Battle with the Turks, Ibid., Tracts for 1538. 

224 Coat of arms of John and Isabella Zapolya from an edition of 
Augustine by Honterus reproduced in Oskar Wittstock, Johan¬ 
nes Honterus (Gottingen, 1970), p. 192. 

231 Stephen Szegedi from his Loci Communes (Basel, 1599). Bein¬ 
ecke Library of Yale University. 

232 Turks Taking Christians Captive from Varess, Enclre, p. 91. 

Abraham, 51 
Adrian, pope, 30 
Alcala, 15 
Alcantara, 60 

Alcaraz, section on Isabella dc la 

Bacon, Francis, 110 
Bari, 136, 140, 150-1, 194 
Bartholomew, Day, 185 

Massacre, 78 
Basel, 141, 164 
Basil, St., 198 
Batory, Stephen, 199, 200 
Beaton, Cardinal, 69, 71 
Beatrice d’Este, 136 
Beghards, 25 
Beguines, 25 
Belgium, 177 
Bergen, 130-33 
Bernard, St., 25, 61, 67 
Beza, Theodore, 75 
Blandrata, George, 143, 227 
Blessila, 66-7 
Bohemia, 205 
Bonaventura, St., 25 
Bourbon, 75 
Bramante, 135 
Brandenburg, Marquis, 208 
Buda, 225 

Bugenhagen, Johannes, 117 
Burghley, Lord, 78, 100 


Alumbrados, chapters on Spain 

Amboise, conspiracy, 67, 192, 198 

Anabaptiist, 211-2 

Andalusia, 53 

Anglican, 192 

Anna Hardenberg, 199-122 

Anna, daughter of Katarina Ja- 

gellonica, 186, 200 
Anna, queen of Poland, 153, 185, 

! 94 - 5 > 1 99 

Anne of Ferrara, 145 

Antitrinitarianism, 141, 146, 156 

Antwerp, 46, 100, 109 

Apocalypticism, 15 

Aquinas, 34-5 

Aristotle, 34 

Augsburg, city, 212-3 

Confession, 213 
Peace, 73 



Calabria, 135 
Calced Carmelites, 56-7 
Calvin and Calvinism, 40, 73, 75, 
77* 85, 91, 141, 146, 160, 164, 
169, 189, 191, 223, 226, 230 
Cambridge, 109 
Capuchin, 15, 54, 111, 141 
Carlos, Don, 45, 66 
Carmelites, 54-7, 57, 61, 178 
Carthusian, 141 
Carranza, Cardinal, 15 
Cartwright, Thomas, 109 
Catherine of Aragon, 209 
Catharine de Medici, 78 
Cassender, George, 192 
Castille, 53 
Catalina, Dona, 45-6 
Cato, 67 
Cazalla, Dr. 41 

Charles V, 30, 65, 117, 191, 209, 

Charles IX, 201 

Christ, 16, 35, 37, 39, 50-1, 55, 70. 

72, 87, 137, 195, 208, 233 
Christian II, 117 
Christian III, 119 
Chrysostom, St., 67, 198 
Claire, St., 51 
Clement VIII, 30 
Climacus, 25 

Colonna, Vittoria, 66, 137, 139, 

Common Prayer, Book of, 112 
Communeros, 162-3 
Communism, religious, 162-3 
Complutensian Polyglot, 15 

Deborah, 73, 81 
Denck, Hans, 25 

Denmark, chapter on Dorothea 
and, 188, 195, 205 
Dering, Edmund, 91, 101-2 
Devai, Hungarian Unitarian, 227 
Devil, 20, 30, 51, 53, 92, 73 
Dexamiento, 20, 50 
Dieppe, 31 
Diogenes, 91 

Dionysius the Areopagite, 25 
Discalced Carmelites, 56-7 
Domingo de Roja, 45-6 

Eck, John, 213 
Edinburgh, 76 
Treaty of, 91 
Edward VI, 71 
Eleanore of Portugal, 205 
Elizabeth of England, 71, 76, 78, 
81, 89, 101-2, 105, 112-3, 121, 
150, 192, 194-5 

Erasmus, 15,28-34, 40, 59, 146, 

Erik XIV chapter on Katarina 
Jagellonica and, 183-4, 191 
Eucharist, 21, 36, 40, 191, 195, 
»97* 213-4 

Excommunication, 20 

Ferdinand of Aragon, 15 

of Austria, 117, 205, 207, 209, 
210-12, 214, 217, 220, 223, 

Finland, 184, 187, 192 
Flaminia, 66-8 
Florence, 189 
Foxe, John, 69 
Francis I, 31, 49, 70, 139 
Francis II, 75, 78 

Gamrat, Bishop, 140, 158-9 
Geneva, 71-2, 75, 85, 91, 141. 160. 

Gerson, Jean, 25 

Giertt, 130-1 

Gonzaga, Giulia, 137 

Goodman Christopher, 74, 89 

Good works, 20 

Grace, 35 

Gracian, 56-7 

Greeks, church of, 197-8 

Gregory the Great, 67, 198 

Gregory XIII, 194, 200 

Grindal Edmund, 112 

Gripsholm, 185 

Gustavus Adolphus, 201 

Gustavus Vasa, 183, 187, 191 

Hardenberg, Anna, 119-122 
Hell, 19-20 

Hemmingsen, Niels, 125, 127 
Henckel, John, 210, 213 
Henry VIII, 164 



Honterus, Johannes, 224 
Hortega, 41-2 

Hosius, Stanislas, Cardinal, 163, 
1951 198 
Huguenots, 75 
Hus, John, 25 
Hutterites, 162 

Idolatry, 72, 87 

Images, 21-2, 41, 54, 58, 130, 163, 
169, 191 

Imitation 0/ Christ, 67 
Indulgences, 20, 23, 35, 42 
Inquisition, entire Spanish 

Interim, Augsburg, 191-2 
Isabel of Denmark, 117 
Isabella, Duchess of Milan, 135-9 
Isabella of Castille, 150 
Ivan the Terrible, 185 

Jacob, 67, 86 

James I, England, 85, 105, 109 
James V, Scotland, 113, 146 
Jane, Lady Grey, 73 
Jerome, 67 
Jesuits, 196, 200 

Jesus, 34, 41, 50, 53-4, 6i, 86-7, 

Jewel, John, 111 
Jhanichenn, 131 
Joanna of Portugal, 45 
John III of Sweden, 
chapter on Katarina 
John of the Cross, St., 56-7 
Joseph, 51,55, 178 
Judaism, 13, 30, 35, 42, 47, 126, 
i43» 161, 209 

Karl of Sddermanland, 184, 198 
Katarina Jagellonica, chapter and 

Kromer, Marcin, 184, 188, 201 

Laelius, 67 
Latimer, William, 73 
Leonardo da Vinci, 135 
Liberty, religious, 161, 164-5, 226 
Lismanini, Francesco, 141, 143, 

Lithuania, 145, 149-50 
Liturgy, 21 
Livland, 186 
Livonia, 199 
Lombardy, 140 
London, 71, 91, 109, 115 
Lorraine, Cardinal of, 75, 77-8 
Louis II of Hungary, 205, 207, 
209, 217 

Loyola, Ignatius, 22, 47, 50 
Lucilius, 67 
Ludovico Moro, 136 
Luther, Martin, 15, 23, 25, 35, 40, 

42-3» 54» 75» 77» 10 7» 10 9» u 7> 
119, 122, 125-6, 128-30, 141, 
150, 156, 163-4, l8 7> i 8 9> 19L 
196, 205, 210, 211, 214 
Lyderhorn, 131 

Madrid, 55 

Maitland, William, 113 
Magdeburg, 73 
Mamhut Begus, 230 
Marguerite of Austria, 213 
of Navarre, 66 
Marprelate, 109 
Marranos, 13 
Martha, 50, 53 
Maria of Hungary, 65, 117 
of Portugal, 65 

Martinuzzi, George, 218, 223, 225 
Mary of Guise, 69, 72-6 
Lazarus' sister, 50, 53 
Stuart, Queen of Scots, pas¬ 
sim 75-82, 121, 194 
Tudor, 15, passim 71-81, 85, 
105, 151 

Virgin, 21, 29, 43, 48, 51, 55, 
58, 70, 130, 136, 223, 226 
The three, 34 
Masefield, John, 128 
Mass, idolatry, 71, 72 
interdicted, 76 
invention of man, 80 
Medrano, 31 

Melanchthon, Philip, 125, 127, 
129, 187, 189, 192, 212, 213 
Merit, 35 
Milan, 135-6, 139 
Mohacs, Battle, 217 



Mohamet bez Bassa, 220 
Moors, 13, 42, 48 
Moravia, 212 
Moriscos, 13 
Morone, Giovanni, 214 
Moscow, 186*7 
Muslim, 156, 161, 165 
Mysticism, 15, 52, 178-80 

Naples, 135-9, 144, 189, 194, 198, 

Narva, 199 
Neoplatonism, 20 
Nero, 79 

Netherlands, 195, 213-4 
Nunez, 18, 45 

Ochino, Bernardino, 111, 141, 

! 64-5 

Ockland, 113 
Olah, 220, 222 
Olavus Petri, 191 

Parker, Matthew, 91, 111 
Paul, Apostle, 35, 42, 57, 59, 60, 

67 > 79 - 95 
Paul III, Pope, 65 
Paul IV, Pope, 31, 34 
Pavia, 152 

Philanthropy, Puritan, 115 
Philip II, 45-55-6, 66, 151, 194-5, 

Pilgrimage, 21 
Polygamy, 164 
Porphyry, 140 
Potocka, Katarzyna, 166 
Poissy, Colloquy, 78 
Prayer, modes of, 21 
Preaching by women, 37, 59, 

Prowse, Richard, 91 
Prussia, 141 
Purgatory, 20, 42 

Quakers, 23 

Quinones, Francisco, 30 

Radziwill, Barbara, 145, 149, 151, 

Rakow, 160-2, 165, 173 

Read, Conyers, 114 
Recogimiento, 22, 50 
Rej, Mikolaja, 143 
Renata of Lorraine, 121 
Resistance, armed, right of, 73, 

Reszka, 163-4 
Richelieu, Cardinal, 78 
Ridley, Nicholas, 73 
Riga, 184 

Rodrigo, brother of Teresa, 148 
Rome, city and Church of, 25, 
55-6, 78, 80, 141-2, 164, 191-2, 
194, 196-201, 205, 210-13, 223, 
226, 230 

Rossano, 135, 143-4, > 5 °’ *94 
Rubeo, 60 
Russia, 184-5, ! 99 

Salamanca, 28 
Salome, 163 
Samaritan woman, 50 
Sanchez, Juan, 41, 45 
Sannazaro, Jacobo, 136-7 
Satisfaction, 41 

Schwenckfeld, Caspar, 25, 107-8 
Scotus, 34-5 
Scripture, 22, 80 
Sega, 56 

Servetus, Michael, 119, 141, 160, 

Seville, 29 

Sforza, Bona, besides her chapter, 
163, 218, 220, 227 
Sforza, Gian Galeazzo, 135-6 
Siebenburgers, 217-8, 220, 225 
Sibylline Oracles, 136 
Sienienski, Jan, 160 
Sigismund I, 139, 141, 183, 218 
Sigismund II (Augustus), 143, 145- 
6, 148-50, 151, 153, 160, 164, 
184, 218 

Sigismund III (Vasa), 184-5, 

199, 200 

Sixtus V, Pope, 200 
Smithfield, 77 
Snidkers, Anna, 130 
Sodermanland, 184 
Sophia of Brunswick, 149, 151, 



Sophia of Mecklenberg, 122 
Stancaro, Francis, 227 
Stark, Helen, 69 
Stockholm, 185-189 
Stuart, Margaret, 85 
Suleiman, 223, 225, 227 
Sultan, 119, 218, 222-3 
Szegedi, Stephen, 230^. 

Szeklers, 223, 226 

Taffin, J„ 93 
Tarnowski, 140 
Tartars, 162 
Tauler, John, 25 
Teresa of Avila, St., Besides her 
chapter, 98, 177, 179-9 
Tertullian, 73 
Toledo, 30 
Tomicki, 151 
Torquemada, Thomas, 13 
Torture, 30-1, 37 
Transylvania, 199, 217 
Trinity, 51, 58-60, 141, 143, 156, 
165, 227 

Trolle, Herluf, 125 
Tyndale, William, 89 

Unitarian, 227 

See Antitrinitarian 

Valadolid, 28 
Varda, treaty, 218, 220 
Vasa, Karl, 184 
Venice, 152 
Vivero, Beatriz de, 45 
Francisco de, 41 

Warsaw, 177 

Warwick, Countess of, 93 
Westeras, 196 
Whitgift, John, 112 
Wiers-Hanssen, 128 
William of Orange, 195 
Wilna, 149, 220 
Wishart, George, 71 
Wittenberg, 25, 125, 129, 141, 143 
Women, see preaching 
Women on their role, 58-70 
Works, good, 40, 42 
Worms, edict, 214 
Wyatt’s rebellion, 73 

Ximenes, Cardinal, 13 

Zapolya, John, 217-8 
Zapolya, Sigismund, chapter on 
his mother Isabella 

A 2 mu 

theology library